1. The fitness to practise (FtP) process is not designed to punish registrants for past mistakes.
Rather, the process is designed to protect the public from those who are not fit to practise. Finding that a registrant’s fitness to practise is ‘impaired’ means that there are concerns about their ability to practise safely and effectively. In 2015-16, only 1.07 per cent of paramedics were subject to an FtP concern; a very small percentage, indicating that the vast majority of registrants are practising safely and effectively.
2. What do we do when we receive a concern about a professional on our register?
We consider each concern individually to decide whether it meets the standards of acceptance. This is the level a concern about a registrant must meet before we will investigate it as a fitness to practise allegation. We may make further enquiries to help us make this decision. If we find that a concern does not meet the standards of acceptance, we will close the case and take no further action. In 2015-16, of the 239 concerns raised about paramedics, 162 cases were closed because they did not meet the standards of acceptance.
3. Your case will be allocated to a case manager.
If the standards of acceptance are met, and you find yourself the subject of a fitness to practise allegation, the case will be allocated to a case manager, who will remain neutral. They can explain how the FtP process works and what panels will consider when making their decisions. However they cannot advise you what to include in your response or how you should represent yourself.
4. We will give you an idea of how long our enquiries will take.
We understand that it can be stressful when an FtP concern is raised, and we will provide you with an idea of how long our enquiries will take at each stage of the process.
5. You can respond to the allegation in writing within 28 days. It is important to engage with the process so that you can give your side of events.
Once we have all the information we need, we will write to you with full details of the allegation that has been made plus copies of the documents we have collated. You are then invited to respond in writing within 28 days. If you need more time, your case manager can offer a 28-day extension, and if further time is required you can make a written application to the panel.
6. You may find it helpful to get advice from your professional body, The College of Paramedics, your union, or a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
They will be able to provide advice on what to include in the response to the allegations which will be provided to the Investigating Committee Panel.
7. You are entitled to be represented throughout the process.
If the case is referred to a hearing, registrants are entitled to be represented, or can represent themselves, throughout the process. Information and guidance on the fitness to practise hearing process is available on our website, and explained in this useful YouTube video.
8. Cases are scheduled up to four months before the actual hearing.
We try to give registrants at least 60 days’ notice of the hearing date. We will also give you the material that we plan to rely on at the hearing 42 days beforehand. We ask registrants to provide their material 28 days before the hearing date.
9. Details of the hearing and allegations are published four weeks before the hearing is due to start.
We put this information on our website as the hearings are held in public. We do not put the information on the website more than four weeks before the hearing date to make sure we are acting fairly and balancing your rights with our role of protecting the public.
10. What are the possible outcomes of a final hearing?
If a registrant’s fitness to practise is found to be impaired, the final hearing panel will decide whether a sanction should be imposed. They may take no further action; caution the registrant; make conditions of practice that the registrant must work under; suspend the registrant from practising; or strike their name from our Register. Before making their decision, the panel will carefully consider the circumstances of each case and take into account all that has been said in the hearing. It is important to remember that the purpose is to protect the public and not punish registrants.
For more information about the FTP process download our brochure ‘What happens if a concern is raised about me?’ or visit our dedicated FTP pages http://www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/resources/
Further information about the work we do in considering allegations about the fitness to practise of our registrants can be found in our Fitness to practise annual reports http://www.hcpc-uk.org/publications/reports/