Wednesday, March 15, 2006


One of the doctors I have to work with is incompetent. She is lazy, work-shy and not fit to look after patients on her own without close supervision.

I have been gently warned by my seniors, in no uncertain terms, that if I bring this up with the consultant, not only will nothing change but I will also then be regarded as a trouble-maker and someone who is "not a team player". I have tried speaking politely to the doctor in question but have made no progress. I will be switching to another ward in a couple of weeks, and do not have to work with this doctor again after today, but nevertheless I am concerned (and so are the nurses) that her laziness is affecting patient care. She only sees the patients who are well and leaves the ill or complicated ones to other people. This results in her colleagues (i.e. me) getting stressed and annoyed, and more importantly means that the ill patients suffer. Unfortunately I was only born with two arms, two legs and one brain so I cannot do everything on my own all of the time.

In an ideal word, a senior would take her aside, have a strong word, and then re-assess her performance after a week. If there was no improvement, she would be relieved of her duties and one of the many unemployed junior doctors in this country would fill her place and do a very good job. The reality - my immediate senior is not doing anything, if I bypass him and go to the consultant it will negatively affect my career, the doctor in question will continue to be crap, the patients will continue to suffer, and the unemployed doctor will remain unemployed. I am not choosing the correct course of action ethically but the NHS is screwing me over enough and I am not prepared to give them another stick to beat me with. I am going to enjoy my week off next week, come back and do a few days and then switch to the next ward, leaving this incompetent idiot to swan around and get all her boxes ticked in order that she can progress up her career ladder.
One day she will be taken to court.
I have a good friend who spoke out loudly in a vaguely similar situation and the NHS spat him out like a bad olive - he is now unemployed and unable to find work because the previous employer will not issue a reference. He is arguably a more ethical person than I am, but I would not swap positions. Does that make me selfish? What about the patients who may suffer at the hands of my incompetent colleague? Is my inaction putting them at risk? Are they more important than me? In my opinion, my family, loved ones and friends come first, then me, THEN everyone else. Fuck this incompetent doctor and fuck the system that allows her to continue to work. It is not my fault and I will not stick my head up above the crowd to have it chopped off. Any number of doctors or nurses could complain, but it seems to have come to the point where it is either me or no-one. I would value the opinions of the panel.


Bishop Hill said...

Look for a way to let those in authority know there's a problem without doing anything as formal as making a complaint.

Fight the system. Nobody can run an organisation as large as the NHS. Particularly as a centralised bureaucracy. No centralised bureaucracy is effective. You guys on the inside have to recognise this and demand privatisation.

Anonymous said...

Tough situation but all too familiar. Sadly, best to watch your back first always. Maybe speak to the college tutor, who may care more than the consultant.

[paraphrased from a text - thanks]

mekon said...

Only a libertarian would trust the market to find a solution to an ethical dilemma.

The net is peppered with stories of whistleblowers getting screwed, so if there is someone you think ought to know, you might find an remailer useful.

Anonymous said...

Dilemma re colleagues being shite is certainly familiar - at the end of the day the sad truth is that you are right and any "whistle blowing" is going to land you in a whole pile of shit and make absolutely no difference to anything. Sad but true I think. Only thing that I could suggest is speaking to your educational supervisor or dean or someone who's in charge of the training programme and not part of the medical team. I myself would only do that if she is truly shit and has put patients lives in danger. If she has, I would definitely say something to the director of your programme or something - at least then you've done what you can and it's up to them to decide what to do.

[via e-mail, thanks]

Anonymous said...

We had a Doc like that and called her "Katrina" cos she rushed in like a hurricaine and left a trail of destruction in her path!

You could collude with the nurses and get them to drop her in the shit.

Nurses are very good a that!

Dan said...

Agree with the above, a quiet word with a sensible ward sister could go a long way. Don't ask her to complain, just note your concerns and ask them if they share them. You could drop into the conversation that your hands are tied. Nurses can have a lot of influence in matters like this (for better or for worse..)

angel, jr. said...

Tough situation.
I think that the most important issue is patient care. There has to be a way to rectify the situation.

The Venial Sinner said...

Anonymous (one of them) and Dan are right: forget educational supervisors and consultants - they are useless at acheiving anything.

If she's rubbish and loading you with work, get the nurses to complain - they'll probably jump at the chance to screw her over for you.

Blog_Doctor said...

I know the feeling... and I know the frustration..

I've been one of the ones who goes straight to the Consultant to complain. DON'T DO IT! Just stick it out as best you can until the time-waster is no longer your problem.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading alot of medical blogs lately. I'm pretty sure this one is the best. Never repetitive. Always entertaining/depressing in equal parts. Which, I suppose is exactly how most medics see it.

Warsaw Crow said...

Come on Vegas. I found your last few posts really interesting. Fill us in on any developments. Please.

Anonymous said...

Tricky Tricky Tricky - you are way too good a doctor to get fucked over right now, so for the meantime keep your head down. Its not the right thing to do, but sounds like the only 'real' option. Just make sure that one day you become the consultant and make sure that this will NEVER be allowed to happen under your supervision... you may not be able to do much about it now, but you will certainly be able to change things one day.
- and lets just hope she doesn't make too many suffer in the meantime.

eMRCPian said...

I fully empathize your feeling.
What to do? Sadly,It happens all around the world.

Anonymous said...

A carefully worded anonymous letter to a few senior people, might be safe for you and might help you feel you have done something and might actually do something.