Raising concerns about your supervisor

A student working at a GP surgery rang the MDU to ask for advice after her GP trainer had turned up twice in a week looking dishevelled and smelling strongly of alcohol. She had also found him apparently asleep at his desk during morning surgery. The GP had a single-handed practice and the student did not know who she could disclose this to. She was also worried that if she raised concerns, she would not be signed off for the placement.

Students, like doctors, have an ethical duty to raise concerns when there is a potential patient safety issue. If the GP does have a problem with alcohol dependence, this could be impairing his decision making and pose a danger to his patients.

GMC student guidance, paragraph 31, says doctors and student should take steps to raise any concerns about a colleague's behaviour, performance or health with the appropriate person.

The MDU advised the student to speak to her educational supervisor at the medical school. She could also report her concerns to the local area team or health board who would be able to investigate this further.

MDU advice

  • Familiarise yourself with the GMC guidance Medical students: professional values and fitness to practise (2009).
  • Be aware that your conduct outside the medical school can also be subject to scrutiny.
  • Look after your health and always seek help. You can't be your own doctor.
  • If you have received a caution or conviction, or been subject to student fitness to practise proceedings, apply early for provisional GMC registration. Your application may take longer if there are matters for the GMC to investigate.
  • Seek advice from the MDU if you have an ethical query or if concerns are raised about your fitness to practise.

This page was correct at publication on 12/06/2013. 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.

You may also be interested in

Student journal

Notes Autumn 2019

In the latest edition of Notes, Dr Beverley Ward looks at some of the issues that might crop up for doctors in the dating game.

Read more
Student advice

Raising concerns about patient safety

A medical student was working on a general surgical ward as part of his surgical attachment at a university teaching hospital. He was working closely with the F1 assigned to the ward and was being supervised by one of the senior trainees.

Read more
Student case files

Raising concerns about your colleague

A medical student undertaking his intercalated BSc year discovered his flatmate had accessed his computer several times and copied his assignments.

Read more