Sexual behaviour and your duty to report colleagues: Guidance

Please note

'We also publish related explanatory guidance on Intimate examinations and chaperones and Maintaining a professional boundary between you and your patient'.

1. In Medical practice1 we say:

25c. If you have concerns that a colleague may not be fit to practise and may be putting patients at risk, you must ask for advice from a colleague, your defence body or us. If you are still concerned you must report this, in line with our guidance and your workplace policy, and make a record of the steps you have taken.

53. You must not use your professional position to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with a patient or someone close to them.

2. In this guidance, we explain how doctors can put these principles into practice. Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will put your registration at risk.

3. To maintain the trust of patients and the public, you must never make a sexual advance towards a patient or display sexual behaviour. Sexual behaviour – for example, making inappropriate sexual comments – does not necessarily involve touching the patient.

4. If a patient tells you about a breach of sexual boundaries, or you have other reasons to believe that a colleague2 has, or may have, displayed sexual behaviour towards a patient, you must promptly report your concerns3 to a person or organisation able to investigate the allegation. If you suspect a doctor has committed a sexual assault or other criminal activity, you should make sure it is reported to the police.

5. You must offer support to any of your patients affected by a colleague’s breach of sexual boundaries.

6. You should respect patient confidentiality4 when reporting your concerns. But, the safety of patients must come first at all times. If you are satisfied that it is necessary to identify the patient, you should seek the patient’s consent to disclose information, explaining why the disclosure is necessary. If consent to disclosure is refused but you judge disclosure is in the public interest, you must tell the patient of your intention to disclose the information. In all cases, you should only disclose relevant information.

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