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Raising Concerns

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Clinical attachments as a medical student can be a hard time. Firstly there’s the huge amount of new stuff to learn. Then you’re also trying to get to grips with a whole new culture on the wards and in clinics, where people don’t always behave in the manner you’d expect or hope.

So what should you do if you see a member of staff or another student acting in an unprofessional manner? What should you do if you see a member of staff abusing a patient? What should you do if you think you are being discriminated against because of your race, sex or sexual orientation?

It is important that students know how to raise their concerns if they see or experience something that worries them. This website should help make this process clear to you. The information and processes described here can be used by any student, not just those on clinical placements.

Confidentiality

All submissions through the online reporting form are completely untraceable so you can remain anonymous if you wish. However, we would recommend that you give your name. This will be helpful for us as we may want to discuss the incident with you further. It will be difficult to investigate or take any specific action based on an anonymous report. This does not mean that your identity would necessarily need to be disclosed although sometimes this is the best course of action. It may also be helpful for you as we will endeavour always to feedback to students about the outcome of any report they submit, but we will obviously be unable to inform you of the outcome of any investigation if you report anonymously.

Incident Reporting Form

Discuss your concerns with someone

If you’ve seen something that causes you concern, the first step is to discuss it with someone that you trust. This could be

Why is discussing your concerns important?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to decide how serious a concern is, particularly those around professional behaviour where there is some room for individuality, and students may not feel they have the experience to know what is acceptable or not. Discussing it with someone else should help you decide whether there really is a problem that should be reported.

The General Medical Council has guidance and an interactive quiz with more information and guidance which might help you think about some if these issues.

I’ve discussed it with someone and we both think it’s something that I should report: what should I do now?

There are several ways that you can report your concern.

Online

Click to access the online reporting form. This is the mode of reporting that we would prefer as it allows you to directly tell us all the information we need to know about an incident.

Through a teacher or tutor

If you have discussed your concern with a teacher, personal tutor or member of NHS staff, they can also submit a report on your behalf, either using the online reporting form, or in person to a member of the raising concerns working group.

Through a student support representative

If you have discussed your concerns with a student support representative, they can submit a report on your behalf, either using the online reporting form, or in person to a member of the Raising Concerns Working Group.

Through Student Evaluation Questionnaires (SEQ's)

If you have a concern that relates to teaching quality, then you can report this in student evaluation questionnaires at the end of the module of course.

What happens once you have reported something?

Your report will be assessed by the Raising Concerns Working Group. The working group contains senior academic and clinical staff. The Raising Concerns Working Group reports ultimately to the Director of Medical Education, Professor Jane Dacre, who may become involved if your report concerns very serious allegations.

When they have assessed the report of your concern, the Raising Concerns Working Group will sort it in to one of three broad categories.

Green concerns

Green Button

These are issues which are troublesome for students but do not really call in to question a persons professional behaviour. These issues might include teachers who turn up late or not at all, or who give very poor quality teaching sessions. These types of issue are often picked up on Student Evaluation Questionnaires, but you can also report them through the raising concerns portal if you wish.It's a bit difficult to define in advance exactly what will happen to all reports as each case will be dealt with individually, depending on the type of incident that is reported, the person involved, whether similar reports have been received before and a number of other factors. However, we will take your report seriously and will let you know the outcome of our decisions or any action that is taken if you give us your name when you submit your report.

Amber concerns

Amber Button

These are concerns that are to do with the behaviour of clinical staff or students, but which don’t have an impact on the safety of others, or constitute a gross breach of professional guidelines. This might include being rude to patients, colleagues or students, being asked to perform examinations or procedures on patients without their valid consent, or being asked to do procedures which the student is not comfortable with. These types of concerns are more common. They will be assessed and the action taken will depend on the result of the assessment. Where action is not taken, the report will be kept in a secure database and if several reports about the same person are received then action will be triggered.You can follow the process of reporting and investigating an amber concern through Michelle and Ali’s stories.

Red concerns

Red Button

These are concerns that are to do with the safety of medical students or the patients or staff of a hospital. They are also concerns where a member of staff or fellow student commits a clear and serious breach of the legal, ethical and professional standards of behaviour. For example, this might include any type of abuse of a patient, student or member of staff, criminal offences or dishonesty.

These types of concerns are rare, but when they are reported, they need to be thoroughly investigated and addressed. Raising concerns about these types of issues is often considered to be “whistle blowing”. The General Medical Council guidance for students about these types of issues is contained in Medical Students: Professional Values and Fitness to Practise, particularly paragraphs 31 and 32. This states that medical students should raise concerns where a medical practitioner or other healthcare professional’s behavior, performance or health may cause patients harm.

You can follow the process of reporting and investigating a red concern through Sarah and Harshil’s stories.

Page last modified on 27 sep 12 09:11