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Doctors ‘get off more lightly’ than nurses in professional misconduct cases

The most common form of professional misconduct was ‘inaccurate record-keeping’.

Researchers have discovered that Doctors ‘get off more lightly’ when their professional conduct is called into question.

Coventry University looked at more than 6,700 cases and 12,599 charges of alleged professional misconduct and found that nurses often faced harsher sanctions for similar instances of wrongdoing.

The study, titled ‘Bad apples? Bad barrels? Or bad cellars? Antecedents and processes of professional misconduct in UK Health and Social Care: Insights into sexual misconduct and dishonesty‘ looked at professional misconduct cases held by the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

It reveals the most common form of professional misconduct across both professional groups was poor or inaccurate record-keeping but the report was specifically targeted as sexual misconduct.

Overall, researchers found that sexual misconduct was “significantly more prevalent amongst male doctors”, but yet they appeared to receive less severe sanctions when compared to other professions.

The report says there are “striking” differences in sanctions for alleged sexual misconduct and that nurses are significantly more likely to be removed from practice. However, the report does explain further research is needed in this area.

Doctors are also less likely to be struck off than nurses when caught lying about their qualifications, being dishonest and for theft and fraud.

Professor Rosalind Searle, Lead Author on the Study, told the NursingTimes;

“In shining the spotlight on professional practice in the health sector, we’re examining relationships that are often intimate in nature and based on trust and confidence between health workers and service users”.

“It’s crucial, therefore, for us to analyse where and how these taken-for-granted notions are being undermined through misconduct, and to take steps towards reducing instances of such behaviour”.

In its findings, the report suggested that; “stressed health professionals making poor judgements, which at times is exacerbated by the intimate and emotional nature of health consultation and treatment, or from relentlessly witnessing ongoing traumas”