Ambulance boss who made 999 worker leave their post to give him a lift back from the airport after a family holiday is sacked

A Scots ambulance boss was sacked after making a 999 call handler leave their post to pick him and his family up from an airport after a holiday.

Christopher Gallacher called in a ‘favour’ from a colleague and requested a pool car collect them from Glasgow Airport after the family trip.

The duty manager then ‘specifically requested’ to be driven by a new, junior member of the team on a busy evening when some patients had been waiting ‘lengthy periods of time’.

The call handler was away from their post for more than 45 minutes to pick up Mr Gallacher.

The call handler was away from their post for more than 45 minutes, the tribunal heard (Stock Image)

The call handler was away from their post for more than 45 minutes, the tribunal heard (Stock Image)

A disciplinary officer said he had 'abused his position' with 'irresponsible' decision-making (Stock Image)

A disciplinary officer said he had ‘abused his position’ with ‘irresponsible’ decision-making (Stock Image)

An investigation found Mr Gallacher, who had worked for the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) for 20 years, had ‘knowingly depleted’ cover, resulting in him being sacked for gross misconduct.

At an employment tribunal, Mr Gallacher tried to sue the SAS for unfair dismissal. But an employment judge has now rejected his claim and ruled bosses acted ‘fairly and reasonably’. The panel heard Mr Gallacher was a duty manager at West Centre in Glasgow, one of the SAS’s three centres in Scotland.

He was responsible for the ‘best use of resources’ in a position with a ‘high level of autonomy and leadership’.

The SAS heard Mr Gallacher had allegedly used its property for his ‘private use’.

‘It was alleged Mr Gallacher had sought to use [and used] a pool car to collect him [and his family] upon return from holiday on July 17, 2022,’ the hearing was told. He was suspended on July 19, 2022. In February 2023, an investigation was completed, recommending Mr Gallacher address allegations of using a vehicle for personal gain and asking a colleague to use it while they were on shift, which was ‘knowingly depleting cover’.

His disciplinary hearing took place in May 2023, after it was agreed an allegation of bringing the service into ‘disrepute’ would be added to considerations.

Despite Mr Gallacher ‘assuming’ the journey would be made in an unpaid 45-minute break, that did not happen. The hearing was told: ‘While [Mr Gallacher] had not intended his request to impact upon patient safety it clearly had the potential to do so.’

A disciplinary officer said he had ‘abused his position’ with ‘irresponsible’ decision-making. As a result of upholding all the allegations, Mr Gallacher was sacked for gross misconduct in May 2023.

He appealed against the decision, claiming other pool cars had been used ‘in an inappropriate way’ previously and highlighting the ‘absence’ of a clear written policy against such practice. But it was rejected in July 2023.

At the tribunal in Glasgow, employment judge David Hoey said: ‘It was clear that Mr Gallacher’s actions had taken a pool vehicle of [the SAS’s] out of duty for a period of in excess of 45 minutes [with a member of staff being out of the building for that period].

‘Ultimately dismissal was a decision that was fair and reasonable.

‘He held a senior position and he ought to have understood the context within which the decision he took would be viewed.’

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