Monday, January 08, 2007

Case studies - Medical Defence Union

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) says that even doctors can work from home. The MDU employs 26 medico-legal advisers who work from home advising fellow doctors faced with ethical dilemmas or needing to respond to the GMC or an unhappy patient. Each year they take around 22,000 advice calls from doctors needing on the spot advice.

Dr Peter Schutte, Head of Advisory at the MDU, said: "The MDU originally decided to offer homeworking as a way of retaining experienced staff following the merger of its London and Manchester offices into one London HQ. We’ve since realised however that it can offer many advantages to us and to our members. All the MDU’s medico-legal advisers now work from home and, because they can be based anywhere in the UK, we are never short of high quality applicants when we are looking for new advisers.

“We have had to develop specialised computer systems because what we do is unique. We also have access to a comprehensive digital library of medico-legal information such as regulators’ guidance, relevant legislation and recent guidelines, to help us to advise members. There are great advantages to having all our files available at the click of a mouse. Recently I was able to advise a doctor who was distressed to have received notification of a GMC complaint which he thought he had resolved with the patient, with our assistance, three years earlier. Straight away I could bring up his old file on my screen and discuss how best to proceed. As he lived only a short distance from my home, I was able to meet him the next day at his surgery to discuss his response.

“There are some disadvantages of course, such as missing the face to face contact of colleagues in the office, although we have weekly meetings by video conference. I certainly don’t miss the crowded commute and, in the summer, I can step straight out of the office into the garden while most people are still struggling home.”

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