Preparing a witness statement

A student calls the MDU advice line when asked to write a witness statement by the police.

The scenario

A medical student was asked by the police to submit a written witness statement about an allegation of sexual assault a patient made against a hospital consultant. The student was present at the consultation during which the assault was alleged to have taken place. She called the MDU for advice on what to include in the statement.

MDU advice

The MDU adviser explained that the first thing to establish was whether the patient had given consent for disclosure of confidential information about the consultation. The student was under the same duty of confidentiality as a doctor. She would therefore need to ask the police to provide the patient's written consent to disclosure.

Once the student was satisfied that consent had been obtained, she could provide a written account of what happened. Her statement should be a factual, accurate account of what happened, in chronological order. The statement should not include any personal comments or opinions or offer information about anything other than the consultation in question.

When reporting what was said between doctor and patient, the student would need to make clear whether she was quoting verbatim, or if she was giving her recollection of the sort of words that were used. Similarly, any description of the patient and doctor's actions must accurately reflect what she had seen and heard, and she should make it clear whether she was relying on memory alone.

Before submitting the statement, the student should make a final check that it was factual, truthful and accurate, and that she would be prepared to stand by it in future. The MDU adviser also reviewed and commented on the statement before it was submitted.

This is a fictionalised case compiled from actual MDU case files.

Need help? Contact us

Student members can contact our medico-legal advisers with a query on 0800 716 646 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or email

This page was correct at publication on 11/05/2023. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.