Legal Considerations and Implications of Impersonating Medical Professionals for Advocacy and Campaigning Purposes

Dear Nina,

Kindly find my research conclusion in respect to the concerns shared by Kevin Mansfield from Safer Strenfield.

1. Impersonating or pretending to be doctors and nurses

Dealing with the first concern, Mr. Kevin must be informed of the laws relevant with this concern. Firstly, Mr. Kevin must be informed that according to the Medical Act 1983, s49, a person who wilfully and falsely pretends to be a medical professional, such as a doctor or a nurse, implying that he/she is registered is liable on summary conviction to a fine. Secondly, he must further be informed that the Fraud Act 2006, s2 makes a person liable for fraud if he/she makes a false representation and intends to make a gain for “oneself or another or to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss”.

Thirdly, Mr. Kevin must note that if members of Safer Strenfield (SS) plan to dress up as doctors and nurses and pretend to treat a “casualty” with the sole purpose of organising a campaign against the proposed development of Strenfield Council, it will not be illegal to do so. Fourthly, however, the factor that would determine liability would be where if the members of SS by their act imply at all that they are registered medical professional. In such case, the act of the members of would attract criminal liability. Fourthly, Mr. Kevin must note that if the members dressed up as doctors and nurses enter the hospital and wander around in the hospital, they may be held liable for fraudulent misrepresentation. Such act may expose the hospital and the patient in the hospital to risk of security causing the hospital loss of reputation. Fifthly, if somehow the hospital faculty and staff relied on their misrepresentation, the members of SS would also be criminally liable. Therefore, if to the extent Safer Strenfield conducts the campaign in such as way so as to not misrepresent themselves and that their acts do not imply they are registered medical professional, it would not be illegal to dress up as doctors and nurses as they planned.

2. Use of the ambulance without using the siren and blue warning lights

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, s3 interprets “Emergency vehicle” as being a vehicle used for ambulance, fire brigade, police purposes, conveying sick, injured or disabled persons, fire salvage, and fighting fire amongst other things. Mr. Kevin must note that emergency vehicles are, thus, used for purposes of public good and safety and as designated by the government authorities. Ambulance is, thus, an emergency vehicle kept for no purpose other than the purposes provided here.

In the current case, Mr. Kevin must note that the ambulance that SS has is a decommissioned ambulance. It can no longer be treated as an emergency vehicle and cannot be used for the purposed legally designated for ambulances. The term decommissioned means that all the equipments, and light and audio warning devices such as blue warning lights and sirens are removed from the body of the ambulance. Thus, Mr. Kevin can use the ambulance as a normal vehicle without using the siren and blue warning lights. If otherwise used, it may amount to false representation and will be liable for fraud under the Fraud Act 2006 (section 2 as mentioned above).

3. Use of siren and blue warning lights

In regard to the concern around using the ambulance without using the blue warning lights and siren, the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 and Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 are respectively applicable here.

Firstly, Mr. Kevin must understand that the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, s16 provides for restrictions on “fitting blue warning beacons, special warning lamps and similar devices”. Such legal restriction is applicable to all vehicles. The section further states that only an emergency vehicle can fit a blue warning beacon, special warning lamp, or a device that resembles them, whether it working or not. Hence, Mr. Kevin must note that vehicles that are designated by the authorities as an emergency vehicle to be used for emergency purposes can fit the mentioned devices.

Secondly, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, s37(4) prohibits a motor vehicle from fitting itself with a siren, bell, gong, or two-tone horn. However, s37(5) allows an ambulance to fit any of them. Thus, Mr. Kevin must note that this prohibition is similar to the prohibition above that allows only vehicles designated for emergency purposes to use and fit audible warning instruments. An ambulance is used for emergency purposes and so can fit any of the audible warning instruments.

Thirdly, applying the relevant law above to the current concern, Mr. Kevin must understand that the ambulance SS purchased is decommissioned, which cannot be used for any of its authorised purposes. It will be treated as a normal vehicle and cannot be treated as an emergency vehicle or designated for use for emergency purposes authorised by the authorities.

Fourthly, as provided by law, Mr. Kevin cannot fit on the ambulance any blue warning beacon, special warning lamp, or any device that resembles them, whether it is in working conditions or not. Also, Mr. Kevin cannot fit on the ambulance the any siren, bell, gong, or two-tone horn.

The prohibitions are applicable as the ambulance is not an emergency vehicle and the purpose they want to use the ambulance for awareness campaign is not for emergency purposes.

I believe I have laid out all the views here that would answer Mr. Kevin’s concerns. They would be able to conduct the awareness campaign, but within the legally permissible limit in order to avoid being criminally liable for false misrepresentation. They have to exercise caution in that regard including the use of the ambulance with the siren and the blue warning lights.

If you need any further assistance or clarification, kindly let me know.

Kind regards,

Trainee


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