It is important that students know how to raise their concerns if they see or experience something that worries them. This may be during pre-clinical taught modules or during clinical placements.
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? What should you do if you are subjected to bullying or humiliating behaviour?
The following should help you to understand how to raise a concern at UCL Medical School. The information and processes described here can be used by any student, not just those on clinical placements. If you have any questions about Raising Concerns, please contact the QAE unit.
As with all student concerns raised with the Medical School, submissions through the raising concerns portal will be treated in strictest confidence. In order for the QA unit to be able to take specific action and conduct a full investigation, and to enable the resolution of any concern raised, we need you to provide your name. Without a name being provided, we are unable to investigate these concerns and take any action. Each case will remain confidential and your name will NOT be disclosed to the individual(s) about whom the concern has been rasied. If you feel that the nature of the complaint would make you identifiable, this should be stated in your online reporting form to enable us to manage this.
Raising Concerns process
A flow chart of UCLMS' raising concerns process can be found here.
Step 1: 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:
- Your Personal Tutor
- A member of NHS staff (for example the consultant of your firm or any of the other junior/senior doctors who are supervising you)
- Another student
- Student Support Tutors
- The QAE Unit
Sometimes, it can be difficult to decide how serious a concern is, particularly those relating to professional behaviour where opinions may differ 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.
Step 2: Reporting your concern
There are several ways that you can report your concern:
- Through the online Raising Concerns Reporting Form: this is our preferred mode of reporting as it allows you to easily provide all the information we need to know about an incident.
- Through a teacher, personal tutor or member of NHS staff: they can submit a report on your behalf, either using the online reporting form or in person to a member of the QAE unit.
- Through 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 QAE unit.
- Through the end of module/placement student evaluation questionnaires (SEQs): this is only suitable for low level concerns you have encountered, for example, poor teaching quality
Step 3: Acting on your concern
Your report will be assessed by the QAE unit, which reports to the Academic Lead for Quality and, ultimately, to the Director of the Medical School, who may become involved if your report relates to a very serious allegation. The QAE unit will assess the severity of the concern you have raised and assign it a level of seriousness according to its nature: low; medium or high. Low level concerns, for example poor quality teaching, should be reported via the SEQs rather than via the raising concerns process and will likely be referred to the relevant Module Lead for resolution.
Medium level concerns
Medium level concerns relate to the behaviour of academic/clinical staff or students, but are unlikely 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; the absence of/insufficient handwashing; being asked to perform examinations or procedures on patients without their valid consent; or being asked to undertake procedures which you are not comfortable with. The action(s) taken to address these concerns will vary according to their nature: examples can be found in Michelle and Ali’s stories.
High level concerns
High level concerns may relate to the safety of medical students, patients or staff or to a clear and serious breach of the legal, ethical and professional standards of behaviour by staff or fellow students. For example, any type of abuse of a patient, student or member of staff; criminal offences; or dishonesty. Abuse of any nature, inclusive but not limited to verbal, psychological, physical and sexual abuse, will not be tolerated and will be treated as a serious breach of professional and ethical standards.
Concerns are prioritised based on risk. High level concerns will be given high priority and, where patient or student safety is involved, the QAE unit will contact the relevant NHS site as a matter of urgency to ensure that the source of the concern is immediately removed. Such concerns need to be thoroughly investigated and addressed: examples can be found in Sarah and Harshil’s stories.
Raising Concerns Guidance
The QAEU has developed some guidance for:
- Individuals, who are subject to a Raising Concern.
- Site leads, who will be contacted by the QAEU when a concern is raised about an individual in their Trust.
The guidance can be found here.