A VETERAN paramedic accused of stealing money from patients was guilty of misconduct, a hearing has ruled.

Angela Armitage, of Berry Brow, was investigated by police on four occasions after complaints by members of the public, but no charges were ever brought.

But colleagues at Honley Ambulance Station were so upset by her behaviour they complained to the Health Professions Council (HPC).

Mrs Armitage told an earlier hearing of the HPC’s Conduct and Competence Committee in central London, she was the victim of bullying at work because she was a naturist.

But the committee was told staff members were worried because Mrs Armitage regularly sat in the ambulance jump seat where she could not be seen by its driver or patients.

Others reported seeing her go through patients’ belongings when she had no reason to do so.

Jacki Pearce, chairman of the committee’s three member panel, said they had been convinced by evidence given by her colleagues.

She said: “In relation to all these instances of behaving in a suspicious manner, the panel prefers the evidence of the HPC witnesses to the respondent’s.”

She stated Mrs Armitage’s behaviour constituted misconduct and impaired her fitness to practice.

She said: “In acting as she did, the respondent behaved in a way that breached HPC standards and impacted negatively on the work of colleagues.”

The first complaint against Mrs Armitage, who had worked in the area since 1978, was made in 2002 by a member of the public who said money had been taken from her mother, but was withdrawn two weeks later.

Other allegations followed and the police were called in four times but took no further action due to a lack of evidence.

Mrs Armitage, who did not attend the hearing, has taken early retirement.

The accusations against Mrs Armitage were that she had been repeatedly accused of theft, had been subject to police investigation, had rifled through patients’ possessions, sat in a concealed position in ambulances and acted in a suspicious manner.

She admitted the first two but denied the rest.

The panel, having agreed all the charges were proved and amounted to misconduct impairing her fitness to practice, suspended Mrs Armitage for a year.

She has the right to appeal.