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25 March 2015, 19:27
A London Ambulance paramedic who made seriously ill patients wait while he shopped and had a hair cut has been struck off the medical register.
Dominic Colella, who worked for more than 15 years as a paramedic for the London Ambulance Service, was found guilty of misconduct for twice abandoning his patients and colleagues while responding to emergency 999 calls, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) found.
Gillian Fleming, who chaired the HCPC hearing, said the public would be "outraged" to hear of a paramedic strolling around Marks & Spencer for 20 minutes collecting his shopping instead of taking an 85-year-old patient with severe blood poisoning to hospital.
During another emergency call just weeks later he left an intoxicated patient with a head injury in the care of a more junior practitioner while he had his hair cut.
Ms Fleming said Colella would be struck off the HCPC register with immediate effect after finding him guilty of misconduct on both occasions in March 2013, following the three day hearing.
She said: "The registrant has shown little in the way of insight or remorse.
"The panel considers that a striking off order is the only appropriate and proportionate order in this case."
She added: "Whilst it appears no harm was caused, the potential impact of the registrant's actions could have had serious consequences for the patients.
"The registrant's actions may indicate an attitudinal problem which he appears to have taken no real steps to address.
"There's no evidence to suggest his behaviour has changed."
Colella admitted abandoning his colleagues and patients in a phone call to the HCPC's legal team but the panel said his failure to turn up to the hearing meant they could not know if he appreciated the seriousness of his actions and they must protect members of the public from a "risk of repetition".
The tribunal heard that on March 9 2013 Colella was responding to an emergency call after an elderly man collapsed in the queue at a Marks & Spencer store.
After the patient regained consciousness and was moved into the ambulance, fellow paramedic Yvonne Purves said her colleague disappeared, leaving her to care for the patient alone and answer questions from his "anxious" wife about why her husband had not been rushed to hospital.
In the second incident just two weeks later, shoppers looked on in disbelief as Colella had his hair trimmed while a less qualified practitioner treated a patient for a head injury in the back of an ambulance.
The 40-year-old patient had collapsed outside the hair salon minutes earlier and there was a 10-minute delay in taking them to hospital because of Colella's "opportunistic" actions, the tribunal found.