Warning for paramedic after online comments boasting of groping a woman's breasts
A PARAMEDIC who boasted online that he had groped a woman's breasts while on an emergency call has been found guilty of misconduct.
Mark Small was brought before a professional watchdog after he posted a message on social networking website Facebook, which said: "Saved someone's life and managed to cop a feel of some cracking jubblies. Excellent shift."
The message was spotted by a colleague, reported anonymously to his bosses at Great Western Ambulance Service and yesterday, a conduct panel of the Health Professions Council found his fitness to practise was impaired.
Small, who has worked for the service since 2004 and has been a paramedic for more than two years, could have been struck off or suspended.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
But the disciplinary panel allowed him to keep his job and instead placed him under caution for the next three years, after hearing that his boast related not to the patient he was treating for chest pains but another woman he had met on the same call-out.
Small, who denied misconduct, also told a manager the groping had been imagined, not real.
The HPC heard Small posted the comments on Facebook between June 28 and 29 last year.
He administered an electrocardiogram or ECG – a test used to detect abnormal heart rhythms – to a female patient with chest pains and breathing problems.
GWAS acting locality operations manager Sarah Jenkins said she investigated an anonymous tip-off to the NHS trust about the Facebook posting.
Mrs Jenkins said Small had told her there had been a "flirtatious atmosphere" during the call-out, to an address which was not identified at the hearing.
She said: "Mark told me he had taken a liking to one of the other ladies at the scene and this status he had posted (on Facebook) he had imagined in relation to this other lady and not the patient.
"He posted the status at the end of a night shift when he was tired and went straight to bed. The next morning his flat mate told him the status was inappropriate and he deleted it immediately."
Nick Cox, who was a serving paramedic with Small on the night, said there was a good atmosphere in the house when they arrived.
He said: "Everyone was very friendly and nice. I didn't get the impression that there was any inappropriate behaviour from anything I saw."
Emergency care assistant Michael Smart, who was also at the scene, also said he did not experience any inappropriate behaviour.
Small told the disciplinary panel he admitted writing the comment and accepted that by writing it his standards fell short of what was expected of him. But he refused to admit the "jubblies" comment amounted to misconduct.
People attending yesterday's heard the panel discuss whether the word "jubblies" should actually have been pronounced "jubilees".
Small said he had about 150 Facebook friends who could have seen the comment but it would have been difficult for anyone else to see it.
He said: "I was very remorseful and I don't know why I made it (the comment). It was very out of character for me to use that kind of language. I am aware that I have let my standards slip and no one is more upset than I am."
The panel heard the complainant thought Small's comment implied he had inappropriately touched a patient but this had been found to be untrue.
Small said there was bad feeling at the ambulance service between paramedics who have been to university like himself and those who had not.
Such was the strength of feeling that since the incident Small had been given a "mentor" whose job it was to thoroughly examine all his patient report forms, he said.
The panel concluded the comment had been irresponsible, "immature", and highly unprofessional but noted Small had a previously unblemished record.
After the case the ambulance trust said in a statement: "Clearly the comments made by this individual via Facebook fell short of the standards expected and were totally inappropriate.
"The trust carried out a thorough internal investigation and the individual has been dealt with by our internal disciplinary procedures.
"Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust has a robust internet and e-mail policy that stresses the importance of staff behaving responsibly and professionally consistent with other forms of communication. In addition, the trust provides staff with clear guidance specifically on the use of social networking sites, including reminding them that any breach of confidentiality or poor behaviour identified on a social networking site may result in disciplinary action being taken."