Written by Martha Odysseos, 13th November 2023
Fitness to practise proceedings
Fitness to practise proceedings are used by professional regulators to handle complaints or deal with concerns made about professionals.
All regulators adhere to an overarching objective to protect the public but they are also tasked with maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct, education and training so that the public can have confidence in their respective professions. There are a number of regulators in the UK including:
- General Dental Council
- General Medical Council
- Health and Care Professions Council
- Nursing and Midwifery Council
- Social Work England
- Teaching Regulation Agency
In cases where allegations of misconduct are brought and subsequently found to be proved, the regulator will consider what action they need to take against the professional. The consequences can be far-reaching for the individual and those connected to them, including colleagues and family because the options available to most regulators will include making the registrant subject to conditions, suspension and in the most serious cases erasure.
The importance of insight
Insight has been described as “an acknowledgement and appreciation of a failing, its magnitude, and its consequences for others…”
The level of insight demonstrated by a professional is a key consideration when it comes to the sanction stage of any fitness to practise case. Although regulators will be aware of and give appropriate weight to any past events which have brought you to their attention, it is important to note that they are considering whether you are fit to practise now and whether you pose a future risk rather than focusing on the past. Showing insight is important to demonstrate that you are currently fit to practise and giving the panel the confidence to allow you to continue with your vocation.
It is a fact of life that things can and do go wrong in any profession and mistakes can be made either within the scope of your role or within your personal life which may impact upon your profession. When things go wrong it is extremely important to reflect on what has happened and to gain insight into the circumstances which have led to this. Considering the lessons learnt from your reflection and showing a genuine understanding of how and why things have gone wrong will inevitably be to your credit.
How to demonstrate insight
You will need to demonstrate that you do not present a current and ongoing risk to the public.
Some factors which can help illustrate insight include:
- Acceptance of what has happened
- Understanding why something has happened
- Accepting that you should not have acted in such a way
- Understanding the impact or potential impact of what has happened
- Identifying and undertaking any further training or courses which will help ensure there is no repetition
By showing that you understand your performance or conduct was wrong, you can then show that you have addressed and remediated the issues or are at least able to do so. In this way you can satisfy the panel that you do not pose a continuing risk.
There will, of course, be cases where a professional disputes the allegations and even the subsequent findings of the tribunal or panel. That does not, however, mean that they are unable to demonstrate a degree of insight. It is perfectly possible to maintain a denial but at the same time accept the findings of the panel and not seek to go behind them. It is also possible to accept the serious nature of the case and even to acknowledge that it could undermine public confidence in the profession.
Every case will turn on its own facts and the principles of fairness and proportionality will also be considered but professionals should certainly never underestimate the relevance and importance of conveying genuine insight.
How can Olliers help?
Our lawyers understand that an investigation or proceedings which call into question your professional conduct will inevitably cause great concern and may well be overwhelming for those who have never been through it before.
In the first instance we will, therefore, answer any questions you may have about the process and we will listen to your concerns and do our very best to address them.
Our experience includes, but is not limited to, representing those being pursued for allegations such as:
- Breaches of professional standards
- Financial misconduct
- Criminal conduct
- Abuse of position of trust
- Conflicts of interest
If you require advice and assistance with regulatory proceedings or associated criminal allegations, please do get in touch.