How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70416
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
12826847
Type Your Law Question Here...
Jo C. is online now

I used to see a female GP. But, I am not registered at

Customer Question

Hi, I used to see a female GP. But, I am not registered at her practice now. I am wondering whether it would be lawful to pursue a romantic relationship with her now that I am not her patient any more. Will her professional status prevent this?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
As long as the relationship begins after you are no longer registered at her practice and you are otherwise able to give good consent and do so the GMC will have no interest in whether or not she is having a relationship with you.
A fair number of doctors do have relationships with their patients which is fine as long as they stop being their doctors as soon as the relationship beings.
It is probably a good idea for her to notify the practice and the GMC of this relationship just to protect herself from subsequent allegations.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Thanks very much for your answer.

Suppose her practice has policies of its own regardless of GMC to prevent such a relationship starting after the end of a formal and normal doctor-patient relationship either (a) when I am registered but not seeing her as a patient anymore, or (b) no longer with the practice, would it be unlawful of them to have such policies given they are, or potentially would be, interfering with our private lives and/or our right to marry under the HRA?

Thanks and regards,

Syed

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, that is a contractual issue rather than a professional regulatory issue.
In fairness, one can see why they do have that policy as it is much safer. I did a secondment at the NMC and it is amazing how many people who have married nurses and had children with them suddenly feel honour bound to report the NMC that their relationship began inappropriately when the relationship is ending. Funny that.
If you are registered there but not seeing her then that is going to offend.
If you are no longer with the practice then that is the best hope. They might be persuaded to relent. I'm afraid that I could not agree that condition would be struck down by UCTA
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

You said you could not agree that condition would be struck down by UCTA. What is UCTA and what did you mean by this? Also, can contractual terms override someone's human rights?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Unfair terms and contracts act.
This is not a human rights issue.
In any event, there can be derogation from the lesser human rights if it can be justified as it clearly can here.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am no longer registered at the practice. But, as I understand it, I can't even make a personal communication with her in any form because she is prevented from replying to any personal communication from me. What is the legal remedy for this?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
She would have to resign and go elsewhere.
The practice is perfectly free to ask their doctors do not embark upon personal relationships with patients registered at the practice.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70416
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for your answer. I have one further question:

Is there a way to make it certain on my part that the practice would not be liable for any damages resulting from any form of professional or personal contacts or communications between her and me in the past or future? What is the legal way of doing that?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I can't immediately see any damages arising anyway. This is a consensual relationship. In fairness, I suspect this goes on far more than we know about and most people are ethical and just don't make reports to the GMC when the relationship breaks down to get revenge. A small minority, sadly, are very childish and do. It depends on the nature of the relationship. The NMC didn't always bring professional regulation proceedings. It depends. If a person goes to A & E to have his leg plastered after a break and the nurse that treats him suggests they go for a drink after then that isn't really an abuse of power. If a nurse is having a relationship with a person who has a condition impeding consent then that is different. The GMC won't have any interest in this. However, come what may, if the practice employer then they are liable for any damages arising from her conduct whilst acting under their direction. But I don't see what damages could arise.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am trying to get in touch with the doctor to see what she thinks about your advice. But in the mean time, can you please clarify whether or not any damages claim or complaints could potentially arise in future from her seeing my confidential medical information at my old practice. In this regard, please keep in mind that I have already assured her that I would be perfectly fine with her knowing my confidential medical details and that I do not believe that she made any inappropriate advances towards me while I was at her practice.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
There might be a data protection issue arising from that although the bigger issue would be professional regulation.
It depends what your existing relationship is.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

What did you mean by saying it depends on what my existing relationship is? I currently do not have a relationship with her, personal or professional. She knows that I am romantically interested in her, but maintaining deniability she has told me that she might also be interested if there were no legal issues. Legally speaking, does this mean a relationship exists already?

I have let her know of your advice, but my understanding is that she would only reply if she can maintain deniability, or get permission from her employer now that I am no longer a patient there.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, it depends what has happened so far.
There isn't an intimate relationship I presume.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I believe there has only been a professional doctor-patient relationship. Nothing more. However, we have talked about it hypothetically.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
that wouldn't amount to a regulation issue.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks. What would be the data protection issue?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
In them not securing your records properly.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The practice could not secure my records from her because she was my doctor. If data protection is an issue then no doctor can ever have any possibility of having a relationship with a patient legally ever regardless of whether or not he/she remains a patient of the doctor. Isn't it?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
But then there are regulatory issues.
If she is not your doctor then she shouldn't be seeing your records.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Your answers are contradictory: you say there are no regulatory issues, but then you say there are regulatory issues. You say there is data protection issues, but then you fail to properly explain how. I am beginning to wonder if you are who you say you are. I want my money back.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Ok.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Does it mean I would get my money back?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Sorry but since you have said you are displeased I'm afraid I cannot help you any further.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
I want a second opinion from another expert.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is ***** ***** I will do my best to help you.
There is no Data Protection Issue as at the time she had access to your records there was no personal relationship.
There is no problem with the GMC if you are no loner her patient.
There may be an employment issue in terms of her having agreed not to enter a relationship with a patient currently registered at the practise as part of her employment terms.
This would not be an unfair contract term as it could be dealt with either by you moving doctors or her moving jobs.
Any requirement that she does not have a relationship with some one who was formerly a patient at the practise would be an Unfair Contract Term
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for your answer.

I would check with her to see if she herself has any questions that I have not already asked, and then get back to you.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
HI
Please be aware that she has her own sources she could have sought advice form if she wishes to do so
Clare