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GOC agrees new Fitness to Practise Rules

30 Sep 2011

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At the September meeting of Council, members approved new rules that will underpin the GOC’s Fitness to Practise (FTP) proceedings. Back in February 2011, we published proposed changes to the rules for public consultation. The proposed changes were designed to make the FTP process faster, fairer and more transparent. They were also designed to reflect legal developments and any changes to best practice since the previous revision in 2005.

Council agreed four changes to the rules:

• Two individual case examiners will decide whether to refer a complaint for an FTP hearing. Moving to a case examiner model will allow the GOC to speed up the investigation process, and introduce efficiencies.

• The decision not to refer a complaint to the Fitness to Practise Committee can be reviewed by the case examiners at any time within five years, or within a longer period where it is considered that the circumstances are exceptional.

• The Fitness to Practise Committee can order the prosecution or defence to pay part or all of their costs (in both a substantive and review hearing). The intention is that the GOC would only request this if it considers that the defence’s conduct of the case had led to unnecessary expense - for example failing to comply with directions issues by the Fitness to Practise Committee. This change will not apply to interim order hearings.

• Case examiners will have the power to re-open a case if a decision has been made to close it without referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee.

Other changes include: the power for the GOC to screen out anonymous complaints; the ability to fast-track allegations involving serious criminal convictions; and the ability to notify a registrant’s current employer of the outcome of a hearing. Respondents to the February consultation were overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed changes. The approved Rules will now be sent to the Department of Health, and laid before the Privy Council for approval.

Full details of FTP rules are available to download in the related Council paper.
 
Further details of the consultation process are available from the consultations section of our website.

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