Fitness to practise investigations are a trial in all but name – complex, formal and adversarial.  For this reason alone, health and care professionals should seek legal advice.  However, this is by no means the full extent of what you should consider when facing a fitness to practise investigation.  Insight and remediation often takes time to achieve and evidence, and there are opportunities to close investigations without the need for prolonged and expensive fitness to practise hearings.

Key to all of the above is seeking expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

Fitness to practise investigations are daunting, prolonged and legalistic experiences

Fitness to practise investigations and hearings are universally described as ‘daunting’.

If you are the subject of a fitness to practise investigation, you will need to prepare for a trial in all but name – the process will be complex, formal and adversarial.  If the matter is referred to a fitness to practise hearing, the panel will be headed by a legally qualified chair, your regulator represented by a legally qualified case presenter and the process will be broad-ranging and lengthy.

Insight and remediation takes time

Reflection is important for any healthcare professional to gain insight into the circumstances that led to things going wrong, and from this to demonstrate remediation.  Remediation is often a long process, and in many cases, remediation steps can take many months to fully achieve and demonstrate.

In circumstances where a health and care professional’s fitness to practise is called into question,  they should be given the opportunity to remediate.  In broad terms, remediation refers to rectifying or correcting a certain behaviour that has generated fitness to practise concerns.

This is important because demonstrable remediation could give regulatory bodies confidence that a health and care professional’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired, and they can continue to practise.

Insight Works Training will help give you a clear and easy to follow understanding of the regulatory process, explanation of the central role of impairment, how to approach insight and remediation, how to evidence this at your hearing and a directed approach to presenting your learning with evidence in writing and verbally.

Can you count on your regulator or employer to support you through a fitness to practise investigation?

The value and level of support varies between regulators and employers.  Generally speaking, support is normally limited to signposting registrants to external support services, unions, professionals bodies or external legal advice.

Inevitably employers and managers will face a conflict of interest; a duty to provide evidence and information to support a complaint to your regulator and supporting your position as employee.

Ultimately, the former will prevail because there is a duty on employers and managers to co-operate with investigations and provide evidence and other information relating to the complaint and allegation.

Does legal advice and representation make a difference?

Research has clearly shown the benefits of legal representation.

A 2019 study peer-reviewed study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that doctors who lacked legal representation tended to receive more serious outcomes.  The study results showed clearly that both “non-attendance and lack of legal representation” were consistently related to more serious outcomes.”

A similar 2015 study revealed that – of the two outcomes, suspension or erasure – doctors with legal representation at hearings were significantly more likely to merely be suspended (72%), rather than struck off (28%). In contrast, 69% of self-represented doctors were struck off.

More recently, research published concluded that:

“Legal representation was seen as important by participants because legal advice could support and guide registrants through the FtP process, which is complex and legalistic. Legal advice was seen as important in aiding registrants to understand regulators’ expectations, especially in terms of the need for registrants to demonstrate insight and perhaps to show evidence of remediation activities. Lack of legal representation was, therefore, seen to potentially have an impact in terms of the seriousness of the outcome for registrants who are perhaps unaware of how to present their case to best effect.”

Kings View Barristers

With over 30 years combined experience, Kings View Chambers have established itself as one of the best when it comes to fitness to practise defence.  We fully understand that fitness to practise defence is not merely about processes and procedures.  We also understand that we are working with people who are anxious and worried about what investigations might mean for them, their professions and the reputations.

We are proud to be rated ‘excellent’ by our clients.  Our commitment to client care is genuine in both seeking the very best outcomes for our clients, but also ensuring we do what we can to support them through the process.

Contact me today for a no obligation and free telephone consultation about your case in the knowledge that you are speaking to one of the best in the business.

Insight Works Training

Disclaimer: This article is for guidance purposes only. Kings View Chambers accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken, in relation to this article. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.