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Does Eva Carneiro Have an Employment Case Against Chelsea FC?

Eva Carneiro was demoted following the opening game of the season after she went on to the pitch in the last few minutes to treat Eden Hazard after he appeared to suffer a head injury.

Chelsea, who were drawing 2-2 and had a man sent off went down to nine men for the last few minutes while Hazard received treatment, with manager Jose Mourinho clearly feeling that her intervention to treat arguably one of the best players in the world meant that they could not win the match.

The next day, however, it was announced that the doctor was stripped of her position as the doctor to the first team and banned from attending all matches involving the first team.

Potential Employment Dispute

Although it was clear from the reaction of the Chelsea manager that he was unhappy that Eva Carneiro had ran on the pitch, footage shows that she was urged to treat a head injury by the referee. Although Mourinho demanded that she and physiotherapist Jon Fearn ignore the referees beckoning, the medical team ran on to treat the injured player.

According to the good medical practice guidelines of the General Medical Council, (GMC) Carneiro was under an obligation to enter the pitch when called on by the referee, regardless of Mourinho’s instruction. If she had refused, she would have been in breach of her GMC responsibilities.  These responsibilities stated that all medically trained professionals must “take prompt action if you think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised”. This obligation trumps any request by an employer. If Carneiro had abided by Mourinho’s wishes, she would have been in breach of one of her ‘safety and quality’ responsibilities and her medical oath.

Following the incident, the female doctor has received the backing of many medical professionals and the mainstream media with the Football Association also backing Eva Carneiro. A statement from the FA read: “If a player sustains or appears to sustain an injury and indicates that he needs assistance, it is the duty of the referee to permit medical assessment and evaluation to be provided.

"At that moment the player becomes a patient of the medical team and it is the duty and obligation of Club medical staff to attend to that patient accordingly and without prejudice to the interests of anyone else including the Club employing them.

"The Football Medical Association fully supports the actions of our members and colleagues in this incident who acted with integrity and professionalism at all times, fully cognisant of the rules of the game and in full accordance with that duty of care to their patient.

"Factors extraneous to the immediate medical needs of the patient (such as the stage and state of the game) cannot be part of their consideration at such time" The PFA and other bodies also reiterated that safety was paramount.

Although it awaits to be seen what action Miss Carneiro will take, it could be a landmark case for the game of football and the medical profession in sport.

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