Second thoughts

As a rugby fan, an FY1 was delighted when a friend asked him to act as match day doctor at an amateur fixture the following Saturday. There was just one problem – he was supposed to be on call that weekend.

The doctor decided it was an opportunity he didn't want to miss and resolved to call in sick. He didn't have shifts that week and on Thursday, he called the hospital to say he was beginning to feel unwell and was unlikely to be better for the weekend. However, by Friday afternoon he was having second thoughts and called the MDU advice line for guidance. 

What happened next

As he spoke to the medico-legal adviser, the doctor swiftly recognised that calling in sick would be letting down his colleagues and could put patients at risk if cover could not be found at short notice. Such behaviour would be dishonest and could lead to serious consequences, including referral to the GMC.

The adviser also reminded him of the limitations of his registration status. Provisional registration with the GMC only allowed him to take part in an approved F1 programme. Even after completing his first year and gaining full registration, the doctor would still be subject to the Approved Practice Settings (APS) restrictions until after his first revalidation. This means that he could only practice in the UK with a connection to a designated body such as an NHS trust, and could only volunteer with the approval of his educational supervisor. 

Finally, the doctor and adviser discussed the ethical responsibilities of event doctors, including having appropriate training, experience and support and ensuring they had adequate indemnity or insurance because this work would not be covered by NHS indemnity.

After calling his friend to explain the situation, the doctor went into work the following morning and completed his weekend on call. He later spoke to his educational supervisor about what happened and his interest in working in sports medicine. His educational supervisor recognised the FY1 had made the right decision and offered to help him find a suitable mentor to explore the possibilities for a career in sports medicine.

Take home messages

  • Be honest and trustworthy in all your communications with colleagues.
  • Recognise the limits of your competence and work within them.
  • Take personal responsibility for acting within the limits of your registration and APS requirements.

This page was correct at publication on 13/05/2021. 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.