Fifth of UK doctors witness or are victims of sexual harassment

1 October 2019, 06:00

Roughly 260 of those surveyed said they had seen or been victim to sexual harassment
Roughly 260 of those surveyed said they had seen or been victim to sexual harassment. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

More than a fifth of UK doctors were sexually harassed by patients and colleagues or saw it taking place in the last three years.

A survey of 1,316 doctors found 17 per cent had been sexually assaulted by a patient with another three per cent saying a co-worker was responsible.

The report by Medscape also found that roughly 50 of those asked admitted they had seen a sexual harassment incident take place.

More than half of the cases of lewd behaviour included patients acting in an overtly sexual manner with some asking doctors out on dates, or even trying to grope or rub against them.

Dr Rob Hicks, GP and co-author of the report, said these types of incidents add to the every day stresses that doctors must endure.

He said: "The healthcare clinical setting is often a high-pressure environment, with doctors increasingly reporting a great deal of stress.

"Doctors have a right to a safe workplace yet this report shows that many are still experiencing or witnessing unacceptable behaviour by colleagues and by patients."

The harassment included inappropriate physical contact such as hugging, patting and people standing too close, with sexual comments also being reported.

Of those who had experienced sexual harassment, the majority did not report it to their workplace with a similar proportion actively avoiding working with certain colleagues.

Some even said it had led to them adopting negative coping mechanisms such as binge eating or drinking alcohol.