Sexual misconduct between an A & E registrar and Teaching Fellow

Background

Dr Clark is a senior A&E registrar and Teaching Fellow responsible for organising training for junior doctors in the department. She regularly mentors Dr Lee, a foundation doctor.

Scenario

After a period of successful mentoring, Dr Clark and Dr Lee enter a consensual romantic relationship. This becomes well known by other staff in the department who witness the pair flirting and touching whilst at work.

Dr Clark frequently invites Dr Lee to carry out workplace-based assessments and supervised procedures but seems reluctant to encourage other trainees to get involved. This causes resentment amongst team members, with one core trainee complaining that they are struggling to meet their portfolio requirements for core procedures, as Dr Clark excludes them from certain cases in favour of Dr Lee.

What the doctors should have considered 

Dr Clark and Dr Lee:

  • Doctors must treat colleagues fairly and with respect and 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.
  • Consensual and reciprocated sexual attraction and relationships between colleagues are not sexual misconduct; however, it is important that professional boundaries are maintained in the workplace. And the relationship – or end of the relationship – has no adverse impact on clinical practice or team environments.