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Gerada: Sex with patients is ‘abuse of power’

Exclusive The chair of the RCGP has warned against any change in the rules over doctors having sex with their patients, describing it as an ‘abuse of power'.

Dr Clare Gerada said it was ‘extraordinary' that a Pulse survey published last week showed that half of GPs backed rule changes on having sex with patients. Dr Gerada blasted the notion that sleeping with patients could ever be acceptable, warning that it severely breaches the boundaries between doctor and patient.

Dr Gerada said she had ‘never met a GP in modern times' who wanted to start a sexual relationship with a patient.

She said: ‘I just think GPs can't have sex with their patients. Patients open up to us, they can be vulnerable and there needs to be boundaries.'

'Patients should never be put in a position where they think their doctors are going to fall in love with them. The doctor-patient relationship is never an equal relationship, it just can't be, and exploiting it is an abuse of power.'

In our survey of 282 GPs, published as part of a special issue of Pulse on medical ethics overseen by guest editor Dr Helena McKeown, one in six GPs said they believed there could be circumstances where it would be appropriate to have a sexual relationship with a patient even if they were on their practice list.

GMC guidance currently forbids GPs to have sexual relationships with current patients, and says that sexual relationships with former patients are in many cases 'inappropriate.'