Doctors training to work for the NHS are being told not to sext — or to at least keep their face out of explicit images.
New guidelines designed to help medics avoid regulatory punishment also urges junior medics to stay off dating apps while at work.
The advice was issued in a document entitled ‘Dating App Guidance for Doctors and Dentists in Training’.
Using apps such as Tinder while at your workplace could ‘negatively affect’ patients’ and colleagues’ views of you, it said.
Such behaviour also risks patients or colleagues establishing ‘inappropriate communications’.
The NHS has issued official advice to its junior doctors, advising them not to sext, the sending explicit images or videos of themselves
The NHS issued the guidance via its training arm Health Education England, and it contains advice on using data apps, sexting and doctor and patient relationships
Dr Joanna Liberty, a medic specalising in anaesthetic, and a pole-dancing enthusiast from Brighton, said she feared the NHS advice represented a slippery slope for other aspects of medics’ private lives
The advice also warned against sending explicit images of any kind, warning such content can be hacked and distributed far more widely that the sender intended.
It also warned sending unsolicited pictures is illegal and could land doctors in hot water with the UK’s medical regulator.
Reacting to the document by Health Education England — the NHS’s training arm — medics described it as ‘nannying and sinister’. Others branded it ‘infantilising and ridiculous’.
NHS-sanctioned dating advice to dentists and doctors in training, referred to as DDiTs in the document, involved identifying themselves by full name on apps if they listed their profession in their profile.
‘DDiTs should not misrepresent themselves and they should identify themselves by name, as they must be prepared to justify their conduct,’ it read.
The advice also warned junior staff about sexting.
Sexting refers to sending nude or explicit images or video of yourself to another person.
The health service advised to ‘avoid sexting if possible’ — but if medics choose to do so they should ensure they follow a set of rules.
One of these was to ensure they trust the recipient, to establish rules about deleting images before sending them and to always avoid having their face in the image as this could lead them to being identified should the images be leaked or sent further.
Some medics reacted angrily to the issuing of the advice.
Dr Tom Mallinson, who works in Scotland, called it an ‘overreach of authority’ on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
A cardiologist, who only went by the name Alex on their profile, added: ‘This really is a totally disgrace. I’m embarrassed for HEE — terrible, infantilising and ridiculous.’
Dr Linda Dykes, a medic specialising in emergency medicine and general practice from the West Midlands, was also critical of the guidance.
She said: ‘Whatever happened to the right to a private life… enshrined in the Human Rights Act?
‘Taking standard safety advice for online dating and slapping on a label on as “for doctors in training” sounds either nannying or sinister.’
Dr Joanna Liberty, a medic specialising in anaesthetic, and a pole-dancing enthusiast from Brighton, said she feared the NHS advice represented a slippery slope for other aspects of medics’ private lives.
‘Just waiting for the day that HEE decide that their puritan moral standards should extend to our hobbies as well as our dating lives,’ she wrote.
Other medics, like Alex a cardiologist, slammed the NHS advice as treating medical professionals like children
Dr Tom Mallinson from the Highlands in Scotland simply called the NHS dating guidance an ‘overreach of authority’
Dr Linda Dykes, a medic specialising in emergency medicine and general practice from the West Midlands questioned how the advice respected medics’ right to have a private life, adding the guidance sounded ‘nannying or sinister’
NHS England was contacted for comment.
The advice acknowledges that medics, especially more junior staff, often face challenges while juggling their work lives and dating.
‘All Doctors and Dentists lead busy lives with hectic schedules,’ it read.
‘This can impact detrimentally on their social and romantic lives and is more likely to impact on younger colleagues.’
But Andrea James, a lawyer who advises doctors who may be referred to Britain’s medical regulators said people would be surprised on how many cases, known as ‘Fitness to Practice’ or ‘FtP’, are sparked by medics sending ‘d*** pics’
Other medics like Dr Philip Lee, a consultant in London specialising in elderly care, mocked the NHS’s training are Health Education England, for its new guidance
However, it warned that medics can risk their career by acting inappropriately, with such cases being referred to the medical regulators, who can suspend or even strike off staff.
‘Issues with doctor’s conduct on dating apps have been investigated by the General Medical Council,’ it reads.
Reacting to the publication, Andrea James, a lawyer specialising in medical regulatory procedures such as Fitness to Practice (FtP) cases, said such guidance could be useful.
‘People think I’m joking when I mention this in FtP lectures, but an astonishing number of our FtP cases really do originate from d*** pics,’ she wrote.