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The investigations process - further information
When we receive a case, we will first assess it to decide whether it falls within our powers and is about fitness to practise. The fitness to practise process is not a general service to sort out complaints and we sometimes receive information about issues we cannot deal with. We will write to you if this is the case.
If the information you provide is about one of our registrants and it is something we can deal with, we will do the following.
- We will allocate a case manager in the Fitness to Practise Department to manage the case. They will be your main contact during the process and we will give you their details.
- The case manager will assess the information you have provided and decide whether it meets our ‘standard of acceptance’. If a case does not meet the standard of acceptance, we will close it if we cannot get any more information. We have produced a practice note which sets out our standard of acceptance in more detail, which is available by clicking here.
- When a case meets the standard of acceptance, we take responsibility for the case. This means that, although you are still a very important part of the process, we will take the matter forward. If you want to withdraw your concerns, we may decide that we still need to continue with the case. We will still continue to keep you informed of what is happening in the case.
- We will write to tell you that we have received your letter and what we will be doing next. We will also write to the registrant to tell them that a fitness to practise concern has been raised about them.
- We will carry out an investigation (for example, we might ask for more documents from you, or contact someone else for information).
- When we have finished our investigation, we will send the registrant a letter setting out the allegations against them and a copy of all the documents we have gathered, including copies of anything you have sent us. The reason for this is that we must give the registrant an opportunity to respond to the allegation and they must fully understand what has been alleged.
- We will give the registrant 28 days to respond to the allegation. In some cases we may give them more time. The registrant does not have to respond. We do not give the person who raised the concern with us a copy of the registrant’s response to the allegation. This is because the registrant is giving their response to the Investigating Committee, rather than to the person who raised the concern with us. They may provide information about their personal circumstances or sensitive information which it would not be appropriate to pass on to anyone else. If there are points that we need to clarify, the case manager will write to you and ask specific questions.
Powers to demand information
We have powers to demand information. Article 25(1) of the Health Professions Order 2001 allows us to insist that an individual or organisation gives us information or produces documents. This power overrides the Data Protection Act and Caldicott Guardian arrangements. A Caldicott Guardian is a senior person within a health or social services organisation who is responsible for protecting the confidentiality of service user information.
It is a criminal offence not to meet our demand for information. The only person we cannot demand information from is the registrant the allegation is about.
The Investigating Committee
After we have given the registrant the opportunity to respond to the allegation, we will pass the information to a panel of our Investigating Committee to decide whether there is a ‘case to answer’. Each panel is made up of at least three people, including someone from the relevant profession and a lay person (someone who is not on our Register). The meeting is held in private. Their task is to look at the evidence that is available and decide whether there is a real prospect that we will be able to prove the allegation. The panel does not decide whether the allegation is proven. They only decide whether we have a real prospect of being able to prove the allegation at a final hearing.
The Investigating Committee can decide that:
- more information is needed;
- there is a ‘case to answer’ (which means they will pass the case to another panel); or
- there is ‘no case to answer’ (which means that the case does not need to be taken any further).
The panel will give reasons for the decision they make. If you brought the case to our attention, we will write to you and give you the panel’s decision and their reasons. If you did not raise the concerns with us, we will write to you as the registrant’s employer if there is a case to answer and they have given us your details.
If the panel decided there is no case to answer and we receive a similar fitness to practise concern about the same registrant within three years, we can take the first case into account when considering the new information.
Information for employers and managers: The fitness to practise processAdobe PDF Document120kb
Fitness to practise referral form - EmployersMicrosoft Word Document101kb