Discrimination and misconduct by clinical supervisor


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


During supervisor meetings, Mr Wilson 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 Wilson that she is not comfortable with his behaviour. He brushes her off, claiming it’s just a joke and appears disinterested and rushed for the remainder of the meeting. 

During subsequent consultations and ward rounds, Mr Wilson stops asking Dr Adam’s clinical questions and she begins to feel excluded. When she does answer questions, he sighs, tuts, or responds disparagingly, which is noticed by other doctors in her team.

Dr Adams raises this with Mr Wilson but he responds by claiming she has no sense of humour and asks her to consider how suited she is to medicine.

Guidance and advice: 

If you observe this behaviour: 

Mr Wilson:

  • Sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and bullying in a workplace is always inappropriate and it can be a criminal offence. It 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, paragraph 53). 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). 
  • Learners must not be subjected to, or subject others to, behaviour that undermines their professional confidence, performance or self-esteem (Promoting excellent: standards for medical education and training, R3.3

Dr Adams: Help and support 

Help and support is available to anyone affected by sexual misconduct in the workplace.