New FTP Rules
General Optical Council eBulletin 19
March 2014

New FTP Rules to speed up process

New Fitness to Practise Rules due to come into force on 1 April will cut the time taken to resolve complaints, helping us to better protect the public while also reducing the burden of long investigations on registrants.

Mandie Lavin, Director of Regulation, said: “The new Rules will help us speed up the fitness to practise process, allowing us to better protect the public and reduce the burden on registrants of what can be a long and stressful process.

“However, the process will remain just as rigorous. It is essential that registrants and the public are treated fairly and that final fitness to practice decisions are made by an independent panel with access to expert legal advice.”

The changes introduce case examiners as the principal decision makers at the investigation stage. They will decide whether to refer complaints for a full investigation and fitness to practise hearing.

Cases will only be referred to the Investigation Committee should the two assigned case examiners (one professional and one lay) fail to agree or should they decide an assessment of a registrant's health or performance is required.

Introducing case examiners is intended to significantly reduce the time taken to decide whether a matter is serious enough to be referred to the Fitness to Practise committee, cutting three to four months from the process. The Registrar will also have the power to refer the most serious cases directly to an Interim Order hearing or directly to the Fitness to Practise committee where there is a serious criminal conviction.

The new Rules are one of a series of initiatives intended to reduce the time taken to resolve complaints, which also include scheduling hearings more frequently and collaborating with the UK Law Commissions’ review of professional regulation.

The selection of case examiners is underway, with a comprehensive training programme commencing in March. Case examiners will be ready to consider their first cases from 1 April.

See our Chief Executive and Registrar, Samantha Peters, talking about the new Rules to Optometry Today.

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