SHE worked in the front line of care for more than 20 years.
But a tribunal heard that Honley Ambulance Station paramedic Angela Armitage was stealing from patients.
There were allegations that over a six-year period, she was suspected of rifling through patients’ bags while in the ambulance taking them to hospitals.
The stunning allegations emerged yesterday at a Health Professions Council disciplinary hearing.
The tribunal was told there were three separate police inquiries into the allegations, but no charges were ever brought.
And paramedics who feared their colleague was stealing from patients were encouraged not to lodge complaints against her, the hearing was told.
Armitage repeatedly rifled through patients’ belongings while based at Honley ambulance station, it was said.
Colleagues at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service eventually reported Armitage to the Health Professions Council and refused to work with her.
Matthew Crosland, a senior paramedic at the Honley station, at Moorbottom Road, said: “There was an interview on October 24 last year with one of our managers.
“We explained that colleagues had ongoing concerns about her conduct.
“Although there was some sympathy for our situation, we were told that without further evidence we wouldn’t be able to proceed.
“This was said off the record. We were encouraged not to proceed with the complaint.
“It was suggested we could be open to legal proceedings ourselves if we went ahead without further evidence”.
But Mr Crosland said by then the situation at the station was so bad, staff were left with no alternative but to report Armitage.
He said: “Staff were getting concerned about working with her. Some staff were very, very uncomfortable. Some even transferred from Honley.
“If they found out they were on the rota working with Angela, they’d say, ‘Can I have a swap. I don’t want to do the shift’.”
Mr Crosland said Armitage’s favoured position was the ‘jump seat’ which is located next to the patient in the back of the ambulance and is usually used by accompanying relatives.
The seat is concealed and colleagues could not see what she was up to, the hearing was told.
He said: “The only time paramedics would need to sit in the jump seat was if they needed to perform some form of airway control.”
But he claimed Armitage sat there to “rifle through patients’ bags”.
The HPC heard Armitage was suspended in April 2007 over an allegation of theft but no charges were brought and she returned to work several months later.
But claims resurfaced about her behaviour at work in July.
“One of my colleagues recalled her rummaging through a patient’s belongings while sitting in the jump seat”, said Mr Crosland. “This was partly so she couldn’t be seen.
“We felt that if things continued they could be further allegations and all the paramedics could be accused of taking belongings.
“This caused serious distress. We felt reporting her was the right thing to do. We had no other avenues.”
Armitage, of Caldercliffe Road, Berry Brow, Huddersfield, denies stealing money from patients between 2002 and 2008.
She also denies rifling through belongings without patient consent, sitting in a concealed position in the back of the ambulance and acting in a suspicious manner.
She also denies impaired fitness to practise.
If found guilty, she could be thrown out of the profession.
In 2004, she was awarded a medal for 20 years’ service with the ambulance trust.
The hearing continues.