Observerships and visitors

An observership is an informal observational experience; observers may not participate in patient care or management. 

How to apply for an observership

In order to apply for an observership, you should complete and return an application form to the-christie.observers@nhs.net. Applications will not be processed until all documentation has been received.

In support of an application, you will need to send the following information:

  • Passport
  • Visa - if appropriate
  • A Letter of Good Standing from local Constabulary or Ministry of Justice Department
  • An up to date Police Check from home country or country of employment/study
  • Reference from current employer
  • Payment of the administration fee

Once an observership has been agreed, we will issue you with an invitation letter. You should not arrange accommodation or travel until you have received this invitation letter. A fee is payable for all observerships.

Any completed application should be received at least 4 months prior to a proposed visit.

Guidelines for observers 

Observers are not authorised by the Trust to provide services of any kind either in an employed or honorary capacity and Observers are not entitled to remuneration or expenses.

Whilst on clinical placement, observers are not permitted under any circumstances to: 

  • undertake clinical procedures prescribe,
  • order diagnostic tests or radiological examinations,
  • take specimens,
  • initiate, advise, order or stop the treatment of patients,
  • teach clinical procedures,
  • take any part in obtaining or witnessing the signature by or on behalf of a patient on a form of consent to treatment, or
  • assist with laboratory work.

Observers must be under strict supervision by the designated clinical supervisor in order to observe in theatre, take a clinical history under supervision, contribute to discussion on diagnosis with the team post treatment (but not diagnose or advise treatment). 

It is the observer’s responsibility and that of the designated supervisor to ensure that the observer is identified to the patient and the observer’s status is conveyed.

In order to improve security, all observers are required to wear a photo identification badge when on the hospital premises.

The observer must not examine a patient. 

All attendance in all clinical areas must be supervised.  

Observers are not normally permitted to visit the Oncology Critical Care Unit (OCCU) or visit areas other than their base department without the express permission of the clinical director or supervising consultant.

All observers are subject to the same verification checks and obligations as all Trust staff with respect to the following: 

  • Immigration status 
  • Occupational health requirements 
  • Criminal records 
  • Protection of children 
  • Certification under the Ionising Radiation Regulations 

Observers are required at all times to behave in accordance with departmental policies and procedures established by the Trust.  

The observership placement may be withdrawn at any time if the observer is found to be in breach of any Trust policies, procedures or the terms of this agreement. It may also be withdrawn for any other reason at the discretion of the medical director or director of education. 

During the placement, observers must not present themselves as an employee of the Trust. The observer accepts that the Trust shall not incur any legal liability upon termination of this appointment or offer any indemnity for NHS work. Observers must maintain a minimum of attendance. The Trust is responsible for the health and safety of each observer whilst on Trust’s premises during the placement, provided that each observer complies with all Trust requirements. 

The Trust accepts no responsibility for damage to or loss of observers’ personal property. 

The observership clinical placement should be structured with objectives and learning outcomes agreed at the beginning of the attachment with the named consultant and successful applicant. 

Clinical access (clinical attachments only) 

Clinical access defines the arrangement, whereby suitably qualified healthcare professionals who do not hold an appointment with the board may be granted access to a hospital department, for the purposes of gaining postgraduate experience in order to provide and/or gain experience of certain procedures and clinical practices.  

The permitted activities and access to facilities are those appropriate to the experience and training as defined and limited by the designated supervisor responsible for the supervision of the placement.  

Healthcare professionals (HCPs) seeking clinical access must be appropriately registered with the relevant regulating body, for example General Medical Council (GMC).  During the placement, the HCP can participate in patient care under the supervision of a suitably qualified designated supervisor. The responsibility for the HCP will lie with the designated supervisor at all times. The HCP does not have any consultant responsibility for the care of patients or the right to admit or treat private patients at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust. 

Placement length 

A clinical observership/attachment placement should be enacted for a maximum of 2 weeks (unless there is a specific clinical requirement for a longer placement). In specific instances, placements may be extended to 4 weeks.

The focus will be on the quality of the placement, and not on the length, with a further requirement that the designated supervisor agrees a set of objectives to ensure that clear outcomes are identified with the observer at the very earliest stage of their placement experience. All discussions in relation to each placement – where the applicant has been approved – will require direct involvement and identification of a designated supervisor.

All placement applications may be rejected should the learning outcomes not be possible within the clinical service at The Christie. 

Last updated: July 2022