Paramedic calls aide a ‘fat porker’ and says it’s free speech

A paramedic has been suspended after he called a female colleague a ‘fat pig’ and then claimed he was exercising his right to freedom of expression. Paul Winfield bullied his fellow ambulance worker about his weight and even gave him big men’s trousers by calling him a ‘fat a**e’.

The paramedic asked if he was on a diet and told him: ‘Look at your condition. You need to lose the weight you need in a two-week onslaught of fat-shaming abuse. A disciplinary panel heard her emergency care technician burst into tears after she repeatedly jibes about her weight in front of colleagues from the East Midlands Ambulance Service.

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

A previous hearing in 2021 was reported to have made ‘inappropriate and objectionable remarks’ about a colleague’s weight and size, as well as the fit of his uniform trousers, over a two-week period. In February 2019 she said she has a ‘fat a**e’ and mocked her for being a ‘joule’, saying she was ‘getting the family trait around her neck’.

The tribunal also heard that she said she had ‘gained weight’ and ‘looked like her grandmother’. The next month, Mr. Winfield told his female colleague ‘Look at your f*****g status. 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 talk about the tightness of the trousers’. Later that month, he suggested to his colleague that he wanted bigger trousers, then tried to give him a pair of oversized men’s trousers.

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

Mr Winfield also told the original tribunal that his outrageous insults were protected by his right to freedom of expression. The tribunal observed: “It was a behavior intended to offend …more [Mr Winfield] only within the past few days, defended it as his right to freedom of speech, saying [his colleague] their opinion, and being ‘helpful’.”

But this argument was rejected because they showed ‘no insight into the restrictions on free speech that are necessary to protect other people from harm’. The original 2021 tribunal gave his “inappropriate, aggressive and threatening behaviour” amounted to a “serious departure from the standards of conduct” that could reasonably be expected of a paramedic.

It was heard that other ambulance service workers were feeling ‘uncomfortable’ seeing how upset the woman was. The Tribunal concluded: “[Mr Winfield’s] The misconduct was serious, in that she made offensive, inappropriate and derogatory remarks about her weight, her family’s appearance, and tease, during her employment and, over fourteen days, to a co-worker (who was new to the station). His uniform fit the trousers.”

However, the panel ruled not to suspend Mr Winfield at that point, stating: “Aggressive and inappropriate behavior and bullying of one colleague as well as behavioral difficulties troubling other colleagues is difficult but It is not impossible to remedy.”

Instead, Mr Winfield was handed 12-month terms of practice orders and asked to attend courses on equality, diversity and professional boundaries. But a second tribunal held last week heard Mr Winfield has since gone on long sick leave and is unable to work or fulfill the order.

His employment was terminated on grounds of ill health in April 2022, to take effect in June 2022. The panel noted that he did not provide a reflective piece to show insight into his works. He said he was ‘struggling’ with it because ‘he finds it really difficult to write in an authentic way about something he doesn’t believe in’.

As a result, the latest tribunal ruled that he should be suspended from the professional register for one year. “It would still be possible [Mr Winfield] To show insight by working online and taking courses to demonstrate that he understands why such bullying was objectionable and unacceptable in the workplace, even though he did not admit he was responsible for it,” it concluded.

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