New Zealand's largest ambulance dispatch centre is being managed by an Englishman who is under a five-year caution for taking a medical vehicle on a road trip to France.
St John Ambulance northern communication centre manager Richard Lane, of Auckland, was placed on a five-year caution after the UK Health Professions Council found him, and a colleague, Paul Leaman, guilty of serious misconduct.
Council disciplinary hearing documents reveal Lane - a former senior manager and paramedic for the Essex Ambulance Service National Health Service Trust - was given an official warning in 2009 for:
• Wrongly using a publicly-funded vehicle while buying alcohol;
• Bullying a colleague who raised concerns with management;
• Colluding with a supplier.
In 2001, Lane and Leaman instructed a mechanic to remove the middle row of seats from a National Health Service vehicle so they could carry more alcohol home from their trip to France.
The publicly-funded healthcare organisation had to foot the bill for the modifications and the overseas trip, a popular way for Britons to stock up on duty-free beer and wine.
Lane told the hearing panel he thought he was entitled to take the vehicle because the clutch on his car - also provided by the National Health Service - was broken.
"He had since accepted he had been wrong to use the vehicle in the way he did," it stated.
"He accepted in hindsight that strictly there would have been an impact on patient care in the sense that an amount of trust funds would have been diverted."
Lane was also accused of wrongly ordering ambulance supplies from a firm owned by Leaman's friend.
The firm did not offer the most competitive price, and the extra cost to taxpayers was significant.
In a separate incident, Lane bullied fleet manager Paul Holmes after he reported his and Leaman's activities to management.
Lane initially agreed to an interview with the Herald on Sunday but was later advised against it by St John's public relations team.
But he said: "It would be naive of me to think there wasn't a dynamic which impacted on St John. I have been open and frank with the staff. Staff were aware of the situation when I came here. I have broad shoulders."
He said he joined St John in June last year and was proud of what he had achieved at the communications centre. He hoped to have his contract extended for at least another year.
St John operations director Michael Brooke said the order was aware of the disciplinary hearing.
"We have every confidence in Richard, in his integrity and in his management of our northern region communication centre."