Thu 24 Aug 2023

Three important things to do if you are facing fitness to practise proceedings

Today, many sectors are subject to regulation including doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers and care workers.

If you work in a healthcare or care setting, you may be regulated by regulators such as the GMC, NMC, HCPC or SSSC. Each regulator has its own set of rules, to explain what conduct is and is not acceptable and what action can be taken against you if you fail to meet the standards expected by your regulator. 

If your regulator has concerns about you, or your work, they may write to you to tell you that they are investigating your "fitness to practise". This looks at various factors including a person's competence, skillset, character (both inside and outside of work) and health required to do their job.

If you are facing a fitness to practise investigation by your regulator, this can be a very daunting and unfamiliar process. However, given the possible consequences of a finding against you, it is important that you take action promptly. Here are three important things to be thinking about from the outset:

1. Engage with your regulator:

One of the most important things to do is to make contact with your regulator and to engage with the process. If a regulator has concerns about your fitness to practise, it is important that you show them you appreciate the seriousness of any alleged conduct, and that you are prepared to fully co-operate with them in respect of any investigation they need to carry out. Early engagement with your regulator and active co-operation during the investigation stage can result in cases going no further.

2. Check important time limits:

Many regulators give you an initial opportunity to respond, as part of the investigation process, before making a decision on whether the case should progress to an interim orders hearing and/or a full fitness to practise hearing. As explained above, early engagement can be very effective. If you are being investigated by your regulator, you should check if there is a time limit to provide an initial statement or to attend a hearing, and if so, it is important to comply with that.

3. Take advice before responding:

If you are asked to provide an initial statement or to attend a hearing, the answers you give will be vital for the regulator in determining what they do next. For that reason, it is strongly recommended that you take specialist advice, from a lawyer or from an experienced trade union representative, prior to speaking to the regulator to avoid saying anything that could damage your case.

Morton Fraser MacRoberts has advised and represented clients before the NMC, HCPC and SSSC. We have a dedicated group of experienced solicitors who can guide you through the complex process of being investigated by your regulator.

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