Professional behaviour and fitness to practise

How should medical schools deal with concerns they receive about a student’s health or behaviour?

  1. Allegations about a student’s health or behaviour may come from a number of sources, including:
    • members of medical school or university staff
    • staff who work in placement provider organisations
    • occupational health physicians
    • fellow students – the circumstances by which this information comes to light should be carefully examined
    • the police
    • self-referral – perhaps declaration of a criminal matter
    • members of the public
    • anonymous complaints, through a raising concerns policy or through the media.
  2. Medical schools and universities should make sure their procedures have sufficient flexibility to receive allegations from a number of sources. They should also make sure procedures clearly define how cases are evaluated.
  3. Medical schools should also consider how they will deal with anonymous complaints and how they can gather evidence in these circumstances. Anonymous complaints can limit a medical school’s ability to take action, as it will be more difficult to investigate and gather evidence. It may be appropriate to deal with such complaints under the medical school or university’s anonymous complaint or raising concerns policy.
  4. In some situations, such as where there is an allegation of plagiarism, it may be appropriate to consider the case under both academic and fitness to practise procedures. In these circumstances, medical schools should conduct the academic process first and conclude it before beginning the fitness to practise process. This will avoid the student facing simultaneous disciplinary procedures for the same allegation.
  5. Medical schools’ procedures on dealing with concerns should also make clear how and when they communicate allegations to the student. Medical schools must give allegations to the student in writing before beginning any investigation. They should also give the student information about the fitness to practise process and the support available to them during it.