Letters Case of GP who married patient’s widower

Doctors need clear guidance, support, and advice from the GMC on relationships with patients

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f7425 (Published 16 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7425
  1. Ruth Holman, consultant in sexual and reproductive health1
  1. 1NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Irvine, UK
  1. ruth.holman{at}aapct.scot.nhs.uk

I agree with Dr Lees.1 Why does the General Medical Council tell doctors to respect patient autonomy but itself not respect the autonomy of a competent adult?2 The GMC has acted arbitrarily, and in its usual kafkaesque way has given no guidance to people who find themselves in a similar situation. How long does the GMC think it takes to be free of vulnerability after bereavement? What should the couple have done? What should GPs do when they are attracted to someone who is on the practice list? Should partnerless people be banned from working in remote areas because anyone they fall for is bound to be on the list?

Doctors deserve better from the GMC—we need clear guidance, support, and advice, not to be left guessing what its opaque and oblique pronouncements mean in real life situations to the peril of our livelihoods.

The BMJ insists that an employer name and address is given. I am writing in my own capacity, from home and these are not my employers’ views.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7425


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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