Whistleblowing

The GMC also expects doctors to inform others if there is a concern about the “fitness to practise” of doctor colleagues. The aim of this is to protect patients from the actions of incompetent, sick or unprofessional doctors. The GMC has recently investigated and punished doctors who did nothing whilst knowing of another doctor’s inappropriate actions.

The concept of “whistleblowing” – informing appropriate authorities when you are concerned of another doctor’s actions – is now well established in the medical profession and it is important for medical students to be aware of this and to understand why it is your duty to protect patients by informing the school of your real concerns about fellow students. Patient’s welfare is more important that a perceived loyalty to a “friend”.

What to do if you are concerned

If you are concerned about the behaviour of another student you MUST inform a responsible person in the School of Medicine, via the Student Education office; by contacting Elizabeth Allen, Undergraduate Medical Education Coordinator e.allen@leeds.ac.uk, or Sarah Drewery, Student Education Service Manager, s.h.drewery@leeds.ac.uk. This will then be referred to a senior officer in the school (dean, director of medical education programmes, director of student progression, or a sub-dean). The case will be investigated and you will be protected from any potential victimisation. Informing is only a step in the process and will not necessarily result in a fellow student being expelled from the course.

Remember the following points:

  • Medical students and doctors have an over-riding responsibility to protect patients.
  • If you are concerned about the actions of a fellow student then you must inform a senior person in the school.
  • Your responsibility is first to patients and only secondly to fellow students.

Concerns about unprofessional behaviour by clinical staff:

The Traffic Light System is a clinical placement reporting tool designed, as a supplementary resource for students AND staff, to ensure high standards and good practice within placements. It is important that students know how to raise their concerns if they see or experience something that worries them during their clinical placements. A negative placement experience can be reported via the Traffic Light System

Professor Richard Fuller, Director, Medical Education Programmes