A married physiotherapist who had sex with a much younger patient has been censured and fined by a disciplinary tribunal.

But the man won't be suspended despite the tribunal hearing he poses a risk to other women.

The North Island physio, whose name is suppressed, faced disciplinary action for engaging in conduct bringing discredit to his profession.

The man, aged in his 40s, treated the woman, 20s, for the ninth time in December 2013.

After the session the pair messaged each other, before, 12 hours later, they had sex at the woman's home. She instigated the intimacy.


Her name is also suppressed.

At a hearing in Wellington, the physio was yesterday found guilty of a professional misconduct charge and members of the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal today decided to fine him $5000 and censure him.

The physio board has ordered the man not to treat female patients and have his practice supervised every fortnight and this must continue until the physio has completed a course about proper professional boundaries. The physio must also pay a share of costs, the tribunal ruled.

Director of proceedings lawyer Rachael Schmidt-McCleave argued the physio's registration should be suspended for at least six months and he should attend courses in ethics and the management of professional boundaries.

"There is a public safety concern in this case due to the deliberate nature of [the physio's] behaviour, his continued attempt to rationalise his conduct and what the director perceives as an unwillingness to accept the fundamental nature of his breach of professional boundaries," Ms Schmidt-McCleave said.

"The prosecution submits that [the physio] poses a risk to other vulnerable young women, especially in light of his lack of insight and inability to accept the seriousness of his behaviour."

The profession's code of ethics says appropriate boundaries should be maintained with patients and sexual contact with them is unacceptable.

Ms Schmidt-McCleave said it was "highly inappropriate" for the physio to have sex with the woman the same day he'd treated her and the main issue for the tribunal in setting a penalty was public safety.


The physio's lawyer Christopher Stevenson said his client and the women knew each other outside of her treatment.

She initiated the sex, which was not pre-meditated on the physio's behalf.

The intimacy didn't happen in a clinical setting and the physiotherapy board had already imposed conditions on the man's work, Mr Stevenson said.

For more than two decades the physio had an unblemished record. He was passionate about his profession and performed volunteer work in his community.

Mr Stevenson provided the tribunal with a series of character references, including one from a senior policeman.

Suspension was "excessive" and opposed by the physio.


"He acknowledges what occurred shouldn't have occurred and he regrets it - he is remorseful."