For doctors, changes in the way hearings have taken place during the pandemic has meant that coroners' inquests, GMC and NHS England performance hearings and case management meetings, as well as consultations, have all been taking place remotely.
It's possible that some hearings will continue in this format for some time, as it's often more time efficient and avoids the need for people to travel long distances.
Here are some tips on how to best prepare and present yourself if you have to attend a meeting, hearing or interview remotely, such as via video.
Before the session
Prepare your documents in advance
Hopefully you will have be sent all the information you need before a hearing or meeting takes place. If there is any documentation you need, ask for this to be emailed to a secure email address, preferably in an encrypted form.
If possible, use a device associated with your professional practice, rather than a personal one. If you feel anything is missing, let the panel or organiser know in plenty of time before the hearing or meeting.
Don't be let down by the tech
Make sure you have downloaded and tested the necessary app to allow you to join the meeting. On the day of the hearing or meeting, make sure your device is fully charged as well as having your charger handy and an electric socket close by.
Test your headphones, microphone and video and make sure you've turned off distracting notifications on your mobile and laptop during the proceedings.
Consider your location
Double-check you have a suitable background. If you are in a clinical location such an office or clinic room, make sure no confidential information is visible. If you're required to stand (or simply prefer to), make sure your camera can accommodate this.
Check the room you're in isn't affected by external noise, and if necessary, close and lock the door to prevent interruptions and to ensure confidentiality.
Be conscious of clothing
If in doubt, it's best to dress smartly. You never know whether you may have to stand up or move, so consider your entire outfit, not just the top.
During the session
Log on early and make sure you have all the necessary documents with you. This will give you time to flag up any problems and ensure you're ready to start. If you know you are going to have to speak, and not just listen, have a glass of water close by.
If the hearing is a lengthy one there should be breaks, but it's worth making sure you have all you need before you start, including a bathroom break. If you need the bathroom during the hearing, ask.
Mute your mic when you're not speaking
During the hearing itself, unless you are speaking, mute your microphone to prevent feedback or unwanted noise. You may be asked to turn off your video if you are not speaking, so make sure you know how to turn it off and back on again when it is your turn to speak.
Be aware of your body language
When your video is on, be aware of your posture and body language. Make sure you are central within the frame. Behave in a way that you would if you were in the room in person.
Follow the instructions given
Like any hearing, when it is your turn to speak, follow the instructions you are given and make sure you have understood the question. If you're not sure, ask. This will inevitably be necessary if there is any interference or if non-verbal cues are more difficult to interpret.
Be as clear as possible
Speak clearly while looking at the camera. Keep any documents or notes you need to rely on in front of you. You may find it helpful to mark any relevant pages for ease of reference. Let the panel know if you are having to refer to your notes so they understand why you may be looking away.
Keeping in touch with your representative
If you have someone supporting or representing you they should be able to join the meeting remotely as well. Discuss with them how you will keep in contact with each other during the meeting. For example, you could message each other on a different device, such as a mobile phone.
Ending the session
At the end of the hearing, don't leave until you are told to do so and follow any other instructions. If you are asked to take any other action once the hearing is over, make sure you do this as soon as possible.
If you need assistance with an inquest, GMC or disciplinary hearing, seek advice from the MDU early. We'll be able to guide you through the process from the start and can help you best represent yourself.
This page was correct at publication on 13/08/2021. 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.