Mr Mohammed Seedat

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA32092

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 01/03/2021 End: 17:00 05/03/2021

Location: Hearing taking place virtually

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Whilst employed as a Paramedic with Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust you:

1. On 27 September 2017, engaged in sexual activity with Patient A after attending her during an emergency call.


2. Your actions described in paragraph 1 were sexually motivated.


3. The matters described in paragraphs 1 – 2 constitute misconduct.


4. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Background


1. The Registrant was employed as a registered Paramedic by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust between 30 May 2005 and 13 November 2017. He was suspended by the Trust on 3 October 2017 and resigned on 13 November 2017.


2. On 27 September 2017 at 13:57 the Registrant, as a Solo Responder was despatched to Patient A’s home address following a 999 call for assistance.


3. The Registrant assessed Patient A and then drove her to her GP where she had a prearranged appointment.


4. At about 16:56, the Registrant returned to Patient A’s address where it is alleged that he engaged in sexual activity with her. He was in uniform and had travelled in a Trust vehicle. Although on his meal break the Registrant remained on duty.


5. The Registrant returned again at about 21:53 to return a key belonging to Patient A which had apparently been found in his Trust vehicle.


6. On 29 September 2017 Patient A referred the matter to the police and the Registrant was interviewed by police on 30 September 2017. In the course of that interview he admitted sexual activity, describing it as consensual.


7. On 2 October 2017 an internal investigation at the Trust, in regard to the incident, was initiated. The Registrant was suspended pending the investigation. The investigation report was submitted on 12 October 2017. In the course of the investigation the Registrant admitted sexual activity but described it as consensual and instigated by Patient A.


8. Patient A was interviewed by Police on 30 September 2017 in which she alleged that the sexual activity was instigated by the Registrant.


9. At the outset of today’s hearing the Registrant admitted allegations 1 & 2 and also misconduct. The Panel is aware that despite the admissions it is for the Panel to determine the factual allegations and also whether the statutory ground of misconduct is established.

Evidence
 
10. There was before the Panel a bundle of documents prepared by the HCPC containing witness statements and exhibits.


11. RP, Interim Sector Commander of North Yorkshire with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (Service) was called as a witness by the HCPC. She was appointed to conduct the Trust’s investigation into this incident.

12. She spoke to her report with which the Panel found her evidence to be consistent. She was a truthful and credible witness, fair and balanced. She had had no previous personal knowledge of the Registrant.

13. The Registrant gave evidence. The Panel found him to be solely focused on the implications of his conduct on him and sought to allay blame upon Patient A, who he referred to as flirtatious. He made reference to his own vulnerability rather than that of Patient A. he demonstrated a lack of insight. He sought to diminish the seriousness of his misconduct referring to it as a “blip in my professionalism”. He confirmed that he admitted sexual activity and that he now accepted that he had been on duty at the time although he previously asserted that the fact he was on his meal break at the time was mitigation. He sought to minimise his responsibility by maintaining that the act was consensual and instigated by Patient A. He accepted that he had broken professional boundaries. However, he maintained that at an early stage following the incident, he had realised that his actions were unacceptable in a Paramedic.  He said that in the period of more than three years since the incident he had continued to work in the health care field, he had cherished his HCPC registration, and was keen to continue his career as a Paramedic.


Decision on Facts
 
14. In reaching its decision on facts, the Panel considered all the evidence before it, both oral and documentary, together with the submissions of Mr Foxsmith and those of Mr Lunat. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


Particular 1 – Found Proved
 
15. In the light of the evidence and of the Registrant’s admissions in his interviews with the Trust, with the Police and before the Panel at this hearing, the Panel found this allegation to be proved.


Particular 2 – Found Proved
 
16. In the light of the Registrants admissions to the Panel and by inference drawn from the nature of the sexual activity, the Panel found this allegation to be proved.


Decision on Grounds
 
17. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the evidence and information before it together with the admissions of the Registrant, the submissions of Mr Foxsmith and those of Mr Lunat. It had in mind the HCPC Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practice is Impaired”. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


18.      The Panel found that in acting in the manner found proved, the Registrant was in breach of the following standards of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics:


1.1 You must treat service users… respecting their privacy and their dignity.


1.7 you must keep your relationships with service users and carers professional.


6.2 You must not do anything, or allow someone else to do anything, which could put the health or safety of a service user, carer or colleague at unacceptable risk.


9.1 You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.
 
19. The Panel therefore concluded that the conduct found proved under each Particular, and in totality, was clearly unworthy of a Paramedic. It amounted to misconduct and that misconduct was particularly serious.
Decision on Impairment  
 
20. In reaching this decision the Panel considered all the evidence and information before it together with the submissions of Mr Foxsmith and Mr Lunat. It had in mind again the relevant Practice Note. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It found the test endorsed by Mrs Justice Cox in the case of Grant and the NMC to be of assistance and the first three limbs of that test to be engaged:


a. has in the past acted and/or is liable in the future to act so as to put a patient or patients at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or


b. has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the medical profession into disrepute; and/or


c. has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the medical profession; and/or
 
21. This was a serious act of misconduct by a professional in a position of trust. Patient A who had been treated by the Registrant earlier that day, although not being treated at the time of the incident, remained a service user as this is the continuing nature of the relationship between service user and Paramedic. Further the Registrant remained on duty.

22. The Registrant has demonstrated a lack of insight into the effect which misconduct of this nature could have on a service user, his colleagues, his employer and the Paramedic profession as a whole.

23. The Panel has concluded that as a result of the nature of the Registrant’s misconduct and lack of insight, it cannot be satisfied that misconduct of this nature would not be repeated, thereby putting service users at risk of harm.

24. The Panel further determined that the nature of the conduct found proved was such that it was liable to bring the Paramedic profession into disrepute. Indeed Witness RP made this observation and this was accepted by the Registrant in his own evidence.

25. In acting as he did, the Registrant has breached fundamental tenets of the profession, which include maintaining professional boundaries and treating service users with dignity and respect.

26. In these circumstances, in regard to the Personal Component, the Panel has determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

27. Furthermore, a finding of current impairment is otherwise in the wider public interest. This is in order to declare and to uphold proper professional standards of conduct and behaviour. The Public and also the Profession would expect a Paramedic to act in accordance with these standards. Public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as Regulator, would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.

Decision on Sanction

28. In reaching its decision the Panel considered all the information before it, together with the submissions of Mr Foxsmith and Mr Lunat and its own findings on impairment. It had regard to the HCPC Sanctions Policy. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It exercised the principle of proportionality at all times.

29. Mr Foxsmith said that it was not for the HCPC to suggest a sanction. However he referred to the sanctions policy and emphasised that the purpose of a sanction was not to punish a Registrant but to protect the public. He referred to the insight shown by the Registrant and to the fact that he was hitherto of good character.

30. Mr Lunat in his submissions also referred to the Registrant’s good character, commenting that not only had there been no previous findings before the Regulator but there had been no criminal convictions. He said also that the Registrant had been affected by this incident both domestically and professionally. He had been subject to an Interim Suspension Order for some three years.


31. Mr Lunat submitted that the Registrant realised that this was indeed a grave and serious incident of misconduct and did not seek to belittle it. Mr Lunat described it as out of character and being a “one off” spontaneous action. He referred to the frequent expressions of remorse made by the Registrant in the course of investigations by the Trust and at this hearing. Further that there is no likelihood that such misconduct would be repeated as the registrant is now fully aware of the consequences of his actions.

32. In regard to sanction Mr Lunat submitted that a Conditions of Practice Order would be appropriate and sufficient to protect the public. He suggested that appropriate conditions would include working only when chaperoned which could be by being deployed in a two manned ambulance and not as a Solo Responder. He said, if the Panel found that if a conditions of practice order was not appropriate, a short period of suspension would mark the serious nature of the misconduct.

33. The Panel found these to be aggravating features:


· The particularly serious nature of the misconduct, which involved sexual motivation.


· Although the misconduct occurred on a single occasion, following his initial professional attendance, the Registrant contacted Patient A by phone then returned to her address when a second visit was not clinically required.


· The Registrant was in a position of trust, having treated Patient A earlier that afternoon and had used his professional status to engage in the inappropriate activity.


· Patient A, had described to the Registrant that she had suffered a previous sexual assault. The Registrant should have recognised that she could be a vulnerable patient.


· The Registrant’s lack of insight into the serious nature of sexually motivated misconduct by a Paramedic towards a patient and that he sought to blame Patient A for initiating the sexual activity.


· The lack of any apparent realisation by the Registrant of the effect that such misconduct could have on a patient and on the reputation of the profession.


The Panel found these to be mitigating features


· There had been no previous findings against the Registrant before this or any other HCPTS panel.


· The Registrant made early admissions to the Trust and to the Police.


· The Registrant’s admission before the Panel to the facts alleged.


· There has been some degree of insight together with expressions of remorse.

34. The Panel first considered whether to take no action, but the serious nature of the misconduct demands a sanction.

35. The Panel then considered Mediation or a Caution Order. However the serious nature of the misconduct is such that neither would be sufficient to protect the public or to address public concerns.

36. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order but there are no conditions that would be workable, appropriate or sufficient to protect the public in the light of the serious nature of the misconduct. The nature of a Paramedic’s duties is such that the Paramedic is rarely accompanied at all times.

37. The Panel then considered a Suspension Order, but again, such an order would be insufficient to address the serious nature of the misconduct. Furthermore such a sanction would not be a sufficient deterrent to other members of the Profession.

38. In considering a Striking Off Order the Panel was aware that is a sanction of last resort for serious matters. These include sexually motivated misconduct. The Panel referred to the Sanctions Policy where it states that such an order is likely to be appropriate where the nature and gravity of the concerns are such that any lesser sanction would be insufficient to protect the public or to maintain public confidence in the profession and regulatory process.

39. This applies to the current circumstances and the Panel therefore determined that the only proportionate and sufficient sanction is that of a Striking Off Order.

40. The Panel did consider the financial impact that such an order would have on the Registrant, but was satisfied that this was outweighed by the public interest.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Mohammed Seedat from the Register on the date this Order comes into effect

Notes

Interim Order


1. Mr Foxsmith applied for an interim order of suspension on the grounds that this is necessary for the protection of the public and is otherwise in the public interest. He submitted that the order should be for the maximum period of 18 months to cover the 28 day appeal period and the time that might be required to conclude any appeal.

2. Mr Lunat made no submissions in response to this application.

3. The Panel has determined to make an Interim Suspension Order Article 31(2) of the Health Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest.


This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Mohammed Seedat

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
01/03/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
07/08/2018 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
09/05/2018 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension