Paramedic who asked patient to send photos after 999 call handed caution order

A paramedic who asked a female patient to "send pictures if out clubbing" after they met on a 999 call has been handed a two-year caution order.

Lee Roberts had met the woman on July 6, 2018, following the emergency call-out and the two messaged each other on that day and July 7, 2018.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedic claimed he wanted to "show concern" for the patient who was travelling to Leicester from Birmingham New Street, due to her being with a male "whom she did not know".

He was concerned at the possibility of any "sinister" outcome and prioritised her safety "other over issues" and did not think about best practice, a misconduct hearing was told.

Mr Roberts said he didn't end his Safe and Well enquiries because he got drawn into the text messages. But the Health and Care Professionals Tribunal Service (HCPTS) found the "nature of the texts" changed and became personal.

An investigating officer said he considered some messages were safe and well, there were texts of a wholly-inappropriate nature. The misconduct panel found the messages had been "sexually motivated" and Mr Roberts had developed "cold feet" and ended the contact, blocking her number, after suggestions the patient wanted to move in with him.

The two had exchanged messages on the first day and then on July 7, 2018, where it was suggested Mr Roberts was on another emergency call-out, with the patient texting "lets get married loool" and later sent "can I come live with u loool" before he responded with "when I kick flat mates out".

An internal investigation was launched after the patient made a complaint, with Mr Roberts being suspended in January 2019 before later being dismissed from the service, a report to the HCPTS said.

In evidence, Mr Roberts indicated "he knows that he should have done things differently, but that he acted with the best of intentions" and deeply regretted his actions. His "error of judgement has torn his life apart in terms of his relationship with his partner, and former friends and colleagues. He accepts it could have had an impact on the (patient), on members of the public and falls below the professional standards."

He had a "long and unblemished career" and claimed staff were encouraged to use their own personal mobile phones to make calls during a shift, given technical difficulties with the radio.

The HCPTS found whilst Mr Roberts "put an end to the messaging" and blocked the patient's number, it was considered this was because he had got himself "into a situation that he did not know how to get out of".

It added: "The panel was of the view that while this may very well have been the case, this is not incompatible with sexual motivation and interest in pursing a sexual relationship at one stage, but thereafter getting ‘cold feet’ when (the patient) indicated that she was “serious” about moving in with him and he saw things as moving too fast and potentially creating complications in his own life that he did not need.

"The panel concluded that the text messages sent by (Mr Roberts) on July 6, 2018 and July 7, 2018, were in contemplation of pursuing a future sexual relationship with (the patient), and therefore (Mr Roberts) was sexually motivated when he sent those texts."

It was determined his fitness to practice was impaired and his actions amounted to misconduct. Mr Roberts was handed a caution order for two years and would "serve as a reminder" for him not to slip back into a similar situation and confirm "sexually motivated behaviour" in a professional context was not acceptable.

He was cleared of using patient-identifiable confidential information gained in the course of his duty to contact her. Further allegations he was dishonest and contacted a colleague and told them was to say during the formal investigatory interview were also not proved.

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