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Inquiry into sex with patients

relationships

Sexual attraction and 'boundary transgressions' between doctors and patients will be the subject of a major Government-sponsored investigation.

It will consider whether GPs should be exempt from disciplinary action if they disclose feelings of sexual attraction to patients at an early stage.

The review will also investigate whether healthcare workers should be banned from ever having a relationship with an ex-patient.

Another possibility is that 'boundary' issues will be introduced into the pre-registration training and continuing professional development of all healthcare professionals.

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, the

overarching health regulator, will draw up fresh guidance for

professionals and patients by the summer, the Government has said. GPs and professional organisations will have a

say before the guidance is finalised.

The move is the Government's response to inquiries

involving practitioners who indecently assaulted former patients, including Folkestone GP Dr Clifford Ayling.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said in the Department of Health's Safeguarding Patients

report that the inquiries raised issues around 'maintaining appropriate boundaries between professionals and patients, and the need for particular precautions in relation to vulnerable patients such as those suffering from mental illness'.

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