Sexual misconduct between a core surgical trainee and a consultant general surgeon
Dr Adams is a core surgical trainee. Mr Shah, a consultant general surgeon has been assigned her Clinical Supervisor.
During supervisor meetings, Mr Shah frequently comments on Dr Adams’s appearance. He consistently draws attention to and compliments her clothing choice and refers to her as ‘sweetheart’ and ‘dear’.
After several meetings with the same behaviour, Dr Adams tells Mr Shah that she is not comfortable with his behaviour. He brushes her off, claiming it is just a joke and appears more disinterested and rushed for the remainder of that meeting.
During subsequent consultations and ward rounds, Mr Shah stops asking Dr Adam’s clinical questions and she begins to feel excluded. When she does answer questions, he sighs, tuts, or responds disparagingly in front of her colleagues.
Dr Adams raises this with Dr Shah but he responds by claiming she has no sense of humour and asks her to consider how suited she is to medicine.
What the doctor should have considered
All sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and bullying in a workplace is inappropriate and can affect individuals, teams and patient safety.
- Doctors must treat colleagues fairly and with respect
- Doctors must be aware of how their behaviour may influence others within and outside the team (Good medical practice, paragraphs 36-37).
This includes maintaining appropriate professional boundaries and making sure that the culture of teams they are part of is safe for colleagues and patients. (Leadership and management for all doctors, paragraph 9).
Help and support
Help and support is available for anyone affected by sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Raising concerns about a colleague
Our ethical hub pages on Speaking up provide advice and tools to help you follow the processes set out in our guidance, as well as a list of organisations who can support you.
- Rape Crisis England and Wales, Rape Crisis Northern Ireland and Rape Crisis Scotland provide free, confidential emotional support, information and signposting by phone or email.
- NHS advice on help after rape and assault provides advice on what to do, the services that can help and how to support people.
- Rights of Women Sexual harassment at work advice helpline provides free and confidential legal advice to women and girls.
- SurvivorsUK operate a free, confidential national online helpline for men and boys.
- GALOP offer a free, confidential and independent helpline and support service for all LGBT+ people who have experienced sexual assault, violence or abuse.