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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.
As with all concerns raised by students to the Medical School, submissions through the Raising Concerns portal will be treated in strictest confidence. In order for UCLMS to be able to take specific action and to conduct a full investigation, and to enable a resolution into 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) against whom the concern has been brought. If you feel that the nature of the complaint would make you identifiable then this should be stated in your online reporting form to enable UCLMS to manage this. We will contact you to obtain additional details and to discuss taking further action, if applicable. If your report relates to a patient safety issue, the Quality Assurance Unit may need to escalate and investigate before communicating with you. We will endeavour always to feedback to students about the outcome of any report submitted.
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, any of the other junior or senior doctors who are supervising you)
- other students
- Student Support Representatives/Tutors
- a member of the Raising Concerns Working Group
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 information, which might help you think about some if these issues. These can be accessed here.
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.
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 (SEQs)
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 the Medical School, Professor Deborah Gill, 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.
These are issues which are troublesome for students, but do not really call in to question a person's 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 in 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.
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.
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 medical students about these types of issues is contained in Achieving Good Medical Practice, which can be accessed here.
Page last modified on 18 aug 16 14:23