Bad Behavior, Bad Consequences
Dr X was subject to an MHPS investigation after a complaint was raised against him using the ‘Freedom2Speak Up’ channel.
It was alleged that during a drinks event at a local bar to celebrate a colleague obtaining a new role and leaving the Trust, Dr X made several inappropriate sexual comments to a female colleague and that Dr X exhibited behaviour to that colleague that could be perceived as harassment of a sexual nature.
Dr X disputed the allegations but stated that many jokes were exchanged that evening between the group of colleagues and that Dr X’s female colleague was notably upset at one point in the evening due to a comment he made, for which he was sincerely apologetic.
MDS ADVICE & OUTCOME
MDS reviewed Dr X’s situation and advised that he should produce a clear written recollection of the events of that evening as soon as possible to ensure he captured as much information as possible and to assist in the investigation meeting.
MDS also emphasised to Dr X the significance of reflection and gaining insight into the situation. They advised him to participate in several professional boundaries courses, which he duly attended. After completing the courses, Dr X produced a reflective statement expressing his apologies and outlining the lessons he learned from the experience.
Dr X’s reflective statement, along with the insights gained from the professional boundaries courses, was submitted to the investigating officer and case manager and subsequently had a significant part to play in the outcome of this matter.
Upon investigation, the Trust felt that Dr X’s conduct did not uphold the Trust values and fell well below the expected standards of behaviour. However, no further action was taken against Dr X since the Trust felt that the insight and reflection demonstrated by Dr X provided them with assurances that there would be no further repeats of this behaviour and that Dr X was willing to engage with necessary support.
Dr X was only asked to attend coaching sessions and reflect on the incident as well as abstaining from undertaking or applying for leadership positions for 12 months to ensure his focus remained on accessing the required support.
Dr X was relieved by the outcome and continues to practice at the Trust .Dr X was extremely pleased and content with the comprehensive support provided by MDS throughout the case.
There are many important takeaways from Dr X’s matter:
- The purpose of investigation meetings is to investigate concerns and does not necessarily imply disciplinary action will be taken against you. It is important to treat them seriously and assure your employer that the concerns have or can be addressed.
- Insight and reflection are the most important part of addressing concerns raised at any level whether a patient complaint, MHPS investigation or a GMC referral. You should regularly attend courses on what it means to reflect and ensure you are always developing insight into your own actions.
- In accordance with Good Medical Practice, behaviour outside of work is equally important as behaviour inside of work. Your conduct should always justify your patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in the profession.