Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Ambulance boss misconduct charge

by Michele Paduano
BBC Midlands Today health correspondent

Paul Leaman
Paul Leaman is accused over his conduct at Essex Ambulance Service

A director of the West Midlands air ambulance is to appear before the paramedics' professional body accused of serious professional misconduct.

Paul Leaman is due before the Health Professions Council on 24 March accused over his conduct while a manager at Essex Ambulance Service.

He is accused of using an NHS vehicle for a trip to buy alcohol in France.

The hearing will also hear charges of colluding with a supplier and victimising a whistleblower.

Mr Leaman was seconded to the County Air Ambulance - which changed its name to Midlands Air Ambulance on Monday - as charity appeals director in 2008.

Tribunal allegations

The charges follow criticisms of Mr Leaman by a 2007 industrial tribunal brought by a transport manager at the trust, Paul Holmes.

The allegations of financial collusion relate to Mr Leaman's time as a manager at Essex Ambulance Service.

The tribunal found Essex Ambulance Service had paid more than it should for supplies and that Mr Leaman received a verbal warning for breaching the trust's standing financial instructions.

The tribunal also heard that, at the end of 2001, Mr Leaman used an Essex Ambulance NHS Trust vehicle to travel to France to buy alcohol.

Mr Holmes had been involved in blowing the whistle on Mr Leaman's activities in both cases.

The third charge relates to Mr Leaman's role in a disciplinary procedure bought against Mr Holmes.

Mr Holmes had been accused of misusing the trust's name when he complained to Braintree District Council about domestic rubbish collection in 2005.

He included his business card on the letter in his official capacity and copied the letter to two local newspapers.

True motives

Mr Holmes was found guilty of gross misconduct and given a final written warning to stay on his record for 18 months.

At Mr Holmes' tribunal, Mr Leaman claimed he did not realise that Mr Holmes had exposed his own alleged wrongdoing at the trust.

But the tribunal said it regarded "these denials as being untrue" and were evidence of his attempt to hide his "true motives" from the tribunal.

He is accused of acting in a way "disproportionate to (Mr Holmes') alleged misconduct" by taking disciplinary action against him.

West Midlands Ambulance Service, which appoints staff to the air ambulance, said Mr Leaman had done a first rate job since being appointed.

Mr Leaman has been approached by the BBC to comment but has not responded.

The County Air Ambulance Trust, a charity which supports six air ambulances across central England, said Mr Leaman was not associated with it.

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