Medical doctor consultation depicting new professional standards for sexual harassment in healthcare

GMC moves to tackle sexual harassment with new professional standards

The General Medical Council (GMC) has sent a clear message that sexual harassment in healthcare must stop as the regulator launches the first major update to its Good medical practice standards in 10 years.

For the first time, the sexual harassment of colleagues is explicitly covered with doctors instructed not to act in a sexual way towards peers with the intent of causing offence, embarrassment, humiliation, or distress.

This encompasses verbal and written comments, the displaying or sharing of images, and physical contact.

The GMC’s chair, Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen, commented: “Sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination are entirely unacceptable. Where workplace cultures of this kind of behaviour go unchecked, they are detrimental to wellbeing, performance and patient safety.”

She continued: “Doctors are increasingly, and bravely, speaking out about it, and as a regulator, it is important we leave no doubt that such behaviour has no place in our health services.”

The issue of bullying and harassment is also clearly tackled for the first time in the guidance. Doctors who witness such behaviour should intervene, whether that be:

  • Offering support to the victim, including acknowledging that what they have seen is unacceptable
  • Challenging the person responsible at an appropriate time and place
  • Reporting the acts in line with workforce policies and ensuring the victim is aware and supports this course of action

Responding to the news, NHS Employers’ chief executive, Danny Mortimer, said: “Sexual misconduct has absolutely no place in any environment, whether that be in the workplace or in wider society, and its incumbent on all to take action to eliminate it, including employers and trade unions.”

He continued: “NHS leaders welcome and support the GMC’s move to clearly define sexual harassment and set out its expectations on how staff should act.”

The new guidance will come into effect from the 30th of January 2024 and will apply to all doctors on the UK medical register.

Image credit: iStock

NHE September/October 2023

NHE September/October 2023

Empowering the next generation to lead the way in hard-to-treat cancers.

The September/October 2023 edition of NHE brings you expert comment and analysis on a range of key health sector topics, from digital transformation to navigating post-pandemic challenges.


View all videos
National Health Executive Presents

National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Events

NHE has created a full calendar of events to address the most important issues that influence the delivery of healthcare services. Over 365 days you'll have the opportunity to hear from a range of highly motivating, informative and inspirational speakers. These speakers will equip you with the knowledge and unique insight to enable you to overcome the challenges that you face.

National Health Executive Podcast

Ep. 36
How interoperability can support the NHS's core goals
with Ed Platt

In episode 36 of the National Health Executive podcast, we were joined by Omnicell’s UK professional services director, Ed Platt, to discuss interoperability in the NHS, practical examples of where it can be leveraged best, the importance of the health service's digital transformation journey and more.

More articles...

View all