Education And Debate

Management for Doctors: Getting the best from people

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 11 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:650
  1. Andrew Vallance Owen, medical directora
  1. a BUPA Health Services, London WC2R 3AU

    Case study

    A surgeon was appointed to a new consultant post in a hospital in the south of England. The advertisement for the post had given little detail and the job description was equally vague, but he had understood, through discussion before his appointment, that he would be able to develop his special interest while in the job.

    On taking up the post he found out almost immediately that he had been allocated only one operating list a week when his predecessor had had three. Although he thought he had been appointed to develop a specialist role, little interest was shown in this and, despite his limited access to theatre, criticism began to be made about his developing waiting list. He soon realised that some of his consultant colleagues had been against the establishment of a new post from the start.

    The situation slowly deteriorated over the next two years, although during this time he was able to build up a reasonable private practice. In his NHS hospital, he felt that staff were somehow being turned against him, including the nursing staff in theatre who had been asked to report on his attendance and punctuality, although they had never complained about this. He became increasingly concerned and frustrated over the lack of resources being put into his unit and eventually spoke out on this issue at a public meeting.

    Shortly after this he was called in to account to the chief executive and medical director without being given the opportunity to bring a supporting friend. Only at the meeting itself was he given statements that had been written about him—two of them specifically commissioned—containing a number of minor allegations. He was given little chance to defend himself and threatened with the possibility of dismissal if he did not “improve.”

    At this point …

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