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Statements: how to write them

A guide for RCN members asked to write a statement for a workplace investigation, in response to a complaint or about an incident at work.

Statements for your employer or agency

If your employer or agency asks you for a statement, ask them to put their request in writing so that you know exactly what you are being asked to write about. Your employer should give you reasonable time to prepare your statement and have it checked by your union.

Use this guidance to write and structure your statement.

We offer a statement checking service to our members. Call us on 0345 772 6100 to discuss arrangements for checking your statement before you hand it in. We are available from 8.30am to 8.30pm 7 days a week.

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How to write your statement

Add your personal details to the top of the page:


Job title:

Professional address:

Subject of statement: (for example, patient/client X at what incident/location.)

Then add an introduction:

I am employed by [insert your employer]. I qualified as [profession] in [month/year of qualification]. My previous experience includes... I have worked in my current job for [months/years].

This statement is based on [personal recollection/review of records - or combination].

I have been involved in the care of Patient X since [date].

I am responding to allegations [you could list them for ease of reference] / a request for a written statement.

Write your narrative ensuring it is:


  • State the times you were on and off duty on the day/s in question.
  • Give brief details of the work environment at that time including your responsibility and the number of patients in your care. 
  • Use the first person (i.e. ‘I’). For example, say 'I gave Patient x 500mg of Paracetamol' rather than '500mg of Paracetamol was given'.
  • Be clear about what you did, saw and heard. Include your professional involvement, as appropriate, based on clinical records.
  • Relate the facts from the beginning and keep them in chronological order, giving precise dates and times. Be consistent in using ‘am’ or ‘pm’ or the 24 hour clock.
  • Avoid jargon or official language. Be as brief as possible while covering all the essential points needed to address the allegations, complaint, or request.
  • Explain clinical or health care procedures and avoid general statements such as ‘routine observations were made’. If normal procedures were not followed, explain what is normal and why there was a departure from the accepted procedure.
  • State what is personal recollection and what can be corroborated as fact with reference to, for example, health care records, reports, clinical guidelines or standards.
  • Where known, please use full names and job titles of colleagues
  • Always write the subject of an abbreviation or acronym in full at first mention.


  • Don’t speculate, elaborate or exaggerate, or use emotional language – you may be called as a witness to give oral evidence based on your statement.
  • If you cannot remember something, say so. 
  • It is acceptable to form a view based on your professional judgement. Document the facts or evidence on which you based your conclusion. Relate how this impacts on patient care or service levels.
  • Don’t assume that the reader knows anything of the facts of the case, such as a patient’s medical history, your environment or clinical routines and procedures. Any intelligent lay person should be able to understand the content.
  • Avoid giving opinions or making judgements that you cannot support by factual evidence or corroboration. You can reflect on what you have observed to be usual practice or experience.
  • Hearsay is second-hand, rather than first-hand evidence, for example: ‘I heard Susan say that she had seen Jill give the injection’. It can be admissible in certain legal proceedings, but it must be clear that it is hearsay evidence. Only relate what you were told by another/ others - you have no way of verifying the accuracy of others’ accounts.
  • In any summary, recap the main points and avoid adding new information or comments.


  • Keep patients’ and relatives’ identities anonymous - for example, use ‘Patient X’ throughout the statement. Record your justification for any ‘public interest disclosures’ and speak to us before disclosing any information.
  • Follow any professional codes, local policies and confidentiality guidelines.
  • Remember that you could be challenged on the content of your account, and your statement could be used in criminal proceedings or disclosed to all parties in a disciplinary or grievance hearing.

Add the following statement of truth and sign and date your statement:

This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.


Job title



List all documents referenced in your statement and, if possible, where to find them, such as:

Patient records, notes, and departmental documents

Local policies or procedures

National standards or evidenced based information

Professional codes and guides

Format your statement

Add page and paragraph numbers. Double space your lines and ensure pages have clear wide margins at each side.

Check it

Review each paragraph carefully, checking that your statement only communicates exactly what was asked for or required. Look at whether the facts can be evidenced. Check that the facts you provide are clearly and objectively explained.

Remember: if you feel your practice or conduct is under investigation, call us for advice.

Keep a copy

Always keep a copy of your statement for future reference. If any oral evidence you are asked to give at a later date is significantly different from your written statement, this might affect your credibility.

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Statements prepared for you

Sometimes your statement will be prepared by someone else in your workplace, for you to sign. This might have been prepared as a result of a meeting with you or by your manager. If you disagree with any of the content do not sign and submit the statement. Return the statement to your employer clearly indicating the areas for amendment. Call us if you are concerned.

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Other statements

Witness statements

You could be asked to make a statement as an independent bystander, or - as a health care professional - you may have witnessed bullying or poor practice. This could lead to formal proceedings against someone else and you may be required to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing as a witness. If there is no risk to you, we do not represent members attending a hearing as a witness, nor do we check statements before you give it to your employer. You should prepare your statement in line with this guidance.

Read more about discipline, grievance and being a witness.

Inquest/Coroner’s Court

If you are asked to provide a statement for an inquest or coroner’s court check your employer’s policy. You may be required to talk to management, or your employer’s solicitor, before speaking to the Coroner’s Office/officer. The policy should outline whether your employer will arrange representation for you to avoid incriminating yourself.

If there is a risk of you being prosecuted in connection with a death, or you may have contributed in some way to the death, call us for advice prior submitting or signing any statement.

We expect the employer to represent its employees at an inquest. However, in certain exceptional circumstances, we may provide support where:

  • there is a clear conflict of interest between the member and other staff involved in the patient’s care (such as doctors or other health care professionals), where it would be difficult for the employer’s lawyer/s to represent all staff as well as the employer
  • the employer is refusing to represent, and we cannot persuade the employer otherwise.
  • Civil and criminal proceedings

    Management may receive a complaint and request a statement about an incident which could result in a civil or criminal claim. This could include, for example, loss of property, personal injury or death following treatment. If you have been asked to prepare a statement in connection with any potential litigation/legal action (such as a medical negligence claim) against you or your employer, call us for advice before you submit your statement.

    Police statement in criminal proceedings

    It can be very frightening to be questioned by the police. If you are a suspect (i.e. the police say that they will be interviewing you under caution) you should not answer questions or submit any statement until you have legal support. Call us as soon as you can. If this is not possible you must seek the support of the duty solicitor at the police station.

    Read our advice on police interviews. 

    If you have been asked to prepare a statement regarding an alleged criminal act carried out by another/ others then assess the risk to yourself before you submit a statement. If you are concerned, call us.

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    Call the RCN on: 03457726100

    Page last updated - 25/09/2018