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A locum agency offered me a job as a senior house officer in obstetrics and gynaecology. This was confirmed by a letter. When I arrived, the job was not in my specialty. My registration with the General Medical Council says that I cannot work in any other specialty. I want to be fairly compensated by the hospital for the psychological and financial damage, but I don't want to take legal action. Can you help?

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 20 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s206
  1. Adam Harrison, senior house officer in trauma and orthopaedic surgery
  1. Queen's Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham


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I am sorry to hear that you have been messed around and lost valuable work. It is, however, difficult to apportion blame to either the hospital or the agency when it really isn't clear from your query whose fault it is and neither is likely to take the blame.

As a general rule, these errors usually result from a minor miscommunication between the agency and the hospital. Even if you spent hours digging, you would still find it almost impossible to uncover the culprit amid a fog of denials and counter denials from both parties. Thus, my advice to you is to chalk this incident down to experience and use your time more constructively in searching for alternative employment. Do not use this agency or hospital in any future job seeking endeavours, and remember to double and perhaps even triple check, almost to the point of being obsessive-compulsive, the correct details of the appointment, including the key personnel contact and the meeting time and place.

Having suffered myself at the hands of hospitals and agencies in the past, I can tell you that looking for compensation is futile. As an aside, if you require accommodation at the hospital you will be working at, before you start there ensure that personnel have communicated with switchboard and that there is definitely a key awaiting you on your arrival. I would also like to refer you to my article in BMJ Careers, which should be of additional benefit (

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