GPs advised on sexual behaviour with patients

Guidance for healthcare professionals on sexual behaviour with their patients has been welcomed by the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) has produced a report to help doctors avoid breaching 'sexual boundaries' and to clarify when a relationship is unacceptable.

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of policy and communications for the MPS, said that although vulnerable patients must be protected, not all relationships between patients and doctors are inappropriate.

'Before entering into a relationship with a former patient a doctor should use their own professional judgment and take advice as to whether or not it is appropriate.

'The emphasis on clear communication is welcome, since complaints of inappropriate behaviour arise from misunderstanding, rather than wilful wrongdoing,' she said.

The CHRE has also produced guidance for fitness-to-practise panels and other regulatory bodies dealing with cases of a sexual nature. The report calls for greater education to ensure that healthcare professionals receive training on sexual boundaries.

Dr Bown said the guidance advises on how to disclose behaviour that is unprofessional.

'They (doctors) should not be sanctioned when exercising their judgment about the appropriateness of when and to whom to disclose.'

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

CHRE guidance, live links at www.healthcarerepublic.com

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