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But it tells them they can date former patients, as long as they give ‘careful consideration’ to certain factors.‘Although it would not be possible to specify a length of time after which it is acceptable to pursue a relationship with a former patient, it is reasonable to expect that the more recently a professional relationship ended the less likely it is to be appropriate to begin a personal relationship with the patient.’ Doctors should only start a relationship with a former patient if they have used their 'professional judgement' to decide if it is appropriate and are still banned from 'improper' relationships with current patients (file picture) Some senior GPs, however, have previously warned that such relationships are always ‘flawed’.