'Good neighbour acts' and volunteering at events

Make sure you have everything you need when providing medical cover at amateur and charity sporting competitions.

  • Check that you have appropriate indemnity before undertaking the work.
  • Make sure you have the necessary qualifications, skills, experience and equipment.
  • Keep detailed notes of any incidents and the medical care you provide.

Doctors are often asked to provide medical cover at amateur and charity sporting competitions, or other local events. Whether it's paid or voluntary work, there are a few things you will first need to consider.

The right indemnity

You have an ethical duty and a statutory requirement to ensure you have adequate indemnity or insurance before you offer your services.

Depending on the event, the organising body may provide indemnity for doctors acting in a professional capacity (voluntary or paid) and you should check this before the event.

If the organisers cannot provide you with indemnity, contact the MDU's membership department to find out whether you are indemnified as part of your current membership.

The right skills

The GMC's Good medical practice guidance states that 'you must recognise and work within the limits of your competence'.

Whatever event you are helping out at, you should have the appropriate skills, experience, equipment and support. For example, if you are volunteering at a local sports club, you may need to be expert in areas such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, airway maintenance and spinal fracture immobilisation.

If you are unsure what you may need, check with the event organiser or relevant sporting organisation.

If a medical problem occurs during the event, your ethical responsibilities – such as the need to obtain consent and maintain confidentiality – remain the same as in your regular medical practice.

Keep a record

Keep detailed notes of any incidents and the medical care provided, in case you are later asked about the treatment you gave. See our guidance on good record keeping for more information.

Approved Practice Settings

Medical graduates who are new to full registration and doctors restoring to the medical register after a prolonged break are subject to the Approved Practice Settings (APS) scheme. Those under the APS scheme must be connected to a 'designated body' in order to practise in the UK.

If you are APS connected, you may volunteer to provide medical assistance at events as long as you:

  • have the approval of your educational supervisor to do so
  • maintain your connection with your designated body
  • comply with any reporting requirements as set out by your responsible officer or training body.

Good Samaritan Acts

Acing as a 'good neighbour' doctor is quite separate from acting as a Good Samaritan, where a doctor attends an event in a non-professional capacity and is called upon to provide medical care in an emergency.

For more on Good Samaritan Acts, read our guidance.

This guidance was correct at publication 04/04/2018. It 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.

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