Guidance welcomed on 'sexual boundaries' with patients

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

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) has produced a set of documents to help doctors avoid breaching ‘sexual boundaries' and 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 judgement and take advice as to whether or not it is appropriate.

‘The emphasis on clear and effective communication in the guidance is welcome, since complaints of inappropriate behaviour frequently arise from misunderstanding, rather than wilful wrongdoing.'

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 effective training on sexual boundaries.

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