Sexual misconduct between a core surgical trainee and a consultant general surgeon

Background

Dr Adams is a core surgical trainee. Mr Shah, a consultant general surgeon has been assigned her Clinical Supervisor. 

Scenario

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

Mr Shah:

All sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and bullying in a workplace is inappropriate and can affect individuals, teams and patient safety. 

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.

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