A new study has revealed that 40% of medical students think that sex between doctor and patient is OK. In the UK, the General Medical Council prohibits any kind of sexual relationship to develop between doctors and their patients.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, asked 62 students whether they would accept a dinner invitation from a patient if they were practising as a GP on a remote Scottish island. 60% said they wouldn't, while 40% said they would. In fact, the 40% said they would seek a relationship in that case (remote Scottish island).

Students gave various reasons for the decision. Some said that living in a remote Scottish island would mean finding a partner might be quite difficult. Others said it would be easy to pursue a relationship if the patient changed doctors (changed practice).

In this survey, the students had to imagine the patient in question was coming to the end of lengthy treatment. They had to imagine that the doctor and patient both belonged to a bird watching club - the doctor being a new member. The patient, on making the invitation, made it clear that he/she wished to pursue a relationship with the doctor.

First, second and third year students were asked this question. The 60%-40% ratio remained pretty constant throughout those years.

You can read about this survey in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

The main reason the 60% said no was ethical. They thought a relationship would undermine the doctor-patient relationship.

According to recent US research, 10% of American doctors have had a sexual experience with one or more patients.

The Scottish researchers said they hoped their findings would lead to more discussions on the subject of doctor patient relationships.

In the UK any doctor who has sex with a patient will be investigated and may face a disciplinary hearing.