A male nurse who had intimate personal relationships with two vulnerable female mental health inpatients has been banned from providing any health service for five years.

Lee Hunt, 38, was working as an enrolled nurse at an SA Health mental health facility in early 2018 when he obtained the phone numbers of the women and went on to develop “intimate personal relationships” with them.

One of the women later “attended Mr Hunt’s home for a number of days” and the pair “engaged in an intimate sexual relationship”.

Both women were suffering from diagnosed mental illnesses at the time.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board referred the matter to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal which found Mr Hunt “engaged in professional misconduct” and “failed to maintain professional boundaries”.

In a recently published judgement, the tribunal found Mr Hunt’s conduct was “without clinical justification and concerned vulnerable persons whom the respondent knew to be suffering mental illness”.

“The tribunal’s attention was not drawn to any statement of remorse by the respondent nor to any demonstration of insight by him into his conduct,” the tribunal said in the judgement.

The tribunal noted Mr Hunt failed to attend a December 2023 hearing about the matter and did not provide an explanation.

He had engaged a lawyer who attended to represent him at the hearing.

In the judgement, the tribunal noted Mr Hunt obtained the mobile phone numbers of both women during their time at the unit and then “exchanged a significant number of SMS and MMS messages via mobile telephone without clinical justification and in the context of a personal relationship”.

“Both parties agreed that the respondent’s conduct is substantially below the standard reasonably expected of an enrolled nurse of the respondent’s level of training and experience,” the tribunal found.

The tribunal also noted that Mr Hunt, who was first registered as an enrolled nurse in July 2011, had twice previously received workplace cautions.

One of the cautions was for making inappropriate and disrespectful comments to another staff member, while the other was for using the credit card of a patient involuntarily admitted to hospital.

“It is unclear whether the latter incident occurred with or without the consent of the person to whom the credit card belonged,” the tribunal noted.

Mr Hunt gave an undertaking not to practice in June 2018 and has not worked as a nurse since.

His registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency lapsed in July 2019.

The tribunal imposed a reprimand on Mr Hunt and disqualified him from applying for registration as a health practitioner for five years, starting December 2023.

He was also prohibited from providing any health service and from using any title relating to a health service without being registered.

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