Medicine And The Media

Sex on the agenda

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 06 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:59
  1. Nigel Duncan

    The BMA's annual representative meeting has come to expect its deliberations to attract extensive media publicity. Last week's conference was no exception, with daily headlines on the NHS Titanic, the medical workforce crisis, and confidentiality.

    But what really took the media's fancy was an obscure motion from Leicestershire and Rutland, tucked away at the back of the agenda, calling for an end to the automatic suspension of doctors who have consensual sexual relations with their patients. The result was a succession of racy headlines–“Chastity in the surgery”; “It's a doctor's affair”; and “GPs want safer sex”–that unexpectedly kept the media spotlight on the conference for a full six days.

    By the end of the conference some representatives were grumbling at the media for hijacking the agenda, exaggerating a relatively small issue out of all proportion, and misrepresenting the facts.

    Although no strangers to such accusations, the media were, on this occasion at least, not guilty. Indeed, an analysis of their week's outpourings shows that they treated …

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