Sometimes its good to look at cases from other countries so we understand that the headlines we see here in the US are not representative of a uniquely American problem. Its really a function of human nature and the nature of the job, both of which cross not only state lines but national boundaries as well.
In Wales, an employment tribunal has upheld the termination of paramedic Gareth Lewis for slapping an elderly female patient who had a history of mental illness. The incident occurred in July of 2011 and Lewis, a former RAF medic, was terminated by the Welsh Ambulance service last October.
At a hearing before an employment tribunal earlier this month, Lewis claimed he was merely trying to assess her level of consciousness after she passed out, and simply tapped her face three times.
However, Lewis’s partner, Nancy Holmwood, who was in the room next door talking with the patient’s daughters, reported that she heard slaps. That was confirmed by the daughters and by the victim who testified that she awoke for the final slap which she called “an almighty slap”.
As part of Lewis’s defense, he alleged that Holmwood was out to get him because he opposed a children’s party being held in the ambulance station. He also claims he was targeted by his superiors in the Welsh Ambulance Service because he raised health and safety concerns in the past.
Employment judge Roger Harper issued a unanimous ruling for the tribunal in upholding Lewis’s termination for gross misconduct.
The case had been referred to the police for investigation, as well as the Protection of Vulnerable Adults Panel, but neither entity found cause to take action.