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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Dr Caroline Ellin

'Is she relying on prostitution to keep her family together?'

Sharmaine is a single mum with young twins and a teenage daughter. She is polite and obviously looks after her children well. She is responsible in making sure her teenager is on contraception. However, is she relying on prostitution to keep her family together?

Although I was attending another visit when I saw Sharmaine and Marika apparently soliciting, I do have a duty to take matters further.

Soliciting and smoking cannabis are illegal acts. My preferred course of action would be to contact the mother either by phone or letter and ask her to come to see me in the surgery.

I would then broach the subject carefully, informing her of what I had seen and ask her to explain. I would offer to put her in touch with suitable people who could help her with her financial and personal problems. I would also suggest that she and her daughter attend a local genitourinary clinic.

During the consultation I would be

able to assess her attitudes to her actions. If she shows no remorse or responsibility I will tell her she really is putting her own and her daughter's health at considerable risk, potentially putting their lives in danger.

I must be supportive during this consultation, since it is usually out of desperation that people resort to prostitution. I must try to make her understand she can trust me and I can

help her.

I would then discuss with my partners the male patient I saw in the area. I would look through his notes and see if there is anything untoward known about him. I would record the incident in his notes, so the information would be available when he next came into the surgery.

With my position in the community as a GP I have a responsibility to act appropriately.

I would contact the police and, mentioning no names, ask them what they were doing about the area and about surveillance in the district.

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