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East Midlands Ambulance paramedic called female colleague a ‘fat porker’

today28 June 2022

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An East Midlands Ambulance Service paramedic was suspended for remarks about his colleague’s weight and calling it ‘banter’. Paul Winfield bullied his colleague by calling her names including a ‘fat porker’ and has claimed that he was just using his right to free speech.

The paramedic made comments about his fellow ambulance worker’s weight which reduced her to tears. Mr Winfield asked if his colleague was on a diet and even gave her a large pair of men’s trousers whilst calling her a ‘fat a***’.

Hull Live reports that the colleague faced two weeks of abuse from Mr Winfield. He told her: ‘Look at the state of you. You need to lose weight’ and made her cry in front of East Midlands Ambulance Service colleagues, a disciplinary panel heard.

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But Mr Winfield, who had been a paramedic since 2002, claimed his demeaning insults were protected by his right to free speech and he was simply trying to be ‘helpful’. A conduct and competence committee of the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service found he was ‘bullying’ the woman, and he has now been suspended for a year.

A previous hearing in 2021 was told he was found to have made ‘inappropriate and offensive comments’ about the colleague’s weight and size, as well as the fit of her uniform trousers, over a period of two weeks. In February 2019 he said she had a ‘fat a**e’ and mocked her for having ‘jowls’ by saying she was ‘getting the family trait around the neck’.

The tribunal also heard he said she had ‘put on weight’ and was ‘starting to look like her grandmother’. The following month, Mr Winfield said to his female colleague ‘Look at the f*****g state of you. You need to lose weight’ and said she was a ‘f*****g fat porker’.

It was around this time that he asked her if she was on a diet and touched her bottom ‘to make a point about the tightness of the trousers’. Later that month, he suggested to his colleague that she needed bigger trousers, then tried to give her a pair of large men’s trousers.

The original tribunal heard he said: “I’m not sure if it’s your trousers that are too small or if it’s your fat a**e?” He claimed his remarks were ‘banter’ and accused NHS bosses of a ‘conspiracy’ against him.

Mr Winfield also told the original tribunal his demeaning insults were protected by his right to free speech. The tribunal noted: “This was behaviour intended to humiliate… and [Mr Winfield] had, within only the last few days, defended this as his right to free speech, telling [his colleague] his opinion, and being ‘helpful’.”

But this argument was dismissed as he showed ‘no insight into the restrictions on free speech which are required in order to protect other people from harm’. The original 2021 tribunal ruled his ‘inappropriate, offensive, and bullying behaviour’ amounted to a ‘serious departure from the standards of conduct that could properly be expected of a paramedic’.

It heard other ambulance service workers were left feeling ‘uncomfortable’ at seeing how upset the woman was. The tribunal concluded: “[Mr Winfield’s] misconduct was serious, in that he had, in the course of his employment and over fourteen days, made offensive, inappropriate, and demeaning comments to a colleague (who was new to the station) about her weight, her family’s appearance, and the tight fit of her uniform trousers.”

However, the panel ruled at that point not to suspend Mr Winfield, stating: “Attitudinal difficulties giving rise to offensive and inappropriate behaviour and bullying of a colleague, as well as upsetting other colleagues, are difficult but not impossible to remedy.”

Instead, Mr Winfield was handed a 12-month conditions of practice order and told to attend courses on equality, diversity and professional boundaries. But a second tribunal, held last week, heard that since then Mr Winfield has gone on long-term sick leave and has been unable to work or fulfil this order.

In April 2022 his employment was terminated on grounds of ill-health, to take effect in June 2022. The panel noted he had not provided a reflective piece to show insight into his actions. He said he was ‘struggling’ with this because ‘he finds it really difficult to write in an authentic manner about something which he does not believe happened’.

As a result, the latest tribunal ruled that he should be suspended from the professional register for a year. “It would still be possible for [Mr Winfield] to have shown insight by doing work online and taking courses to demonstrate that he understands why such bullying in the workplace was offensive and unacceptable even if he did not accept he was responsible for it,” it concluded.

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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