Health and care professionals and HCPC proceedings
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If you are being investigated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), our specialist disciplinary and regulatory solicitors can provide expert legal advice and representation.
The HCPC regulates 15 health and care professions in the United Kingdom. Registered health and care professionals ('Registrants') must comply with the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and the HCPC Standards of Proficiency for their profession. If concerns are raised about a professional’s fitness to practise then the HCPC has a legal obligation to investigate such complaints.
What is a HCPC investigation?
If the HCPC receives a complaint about a health and care professional, then it will investigate that complaint. There are various stages at which a complaint may be closed. If the HCPC decides to proceed with an investigation, you will be notified.
Should I notify the HCPC of any concerns?
A HCPC Registrant must notify the HCPC as soon as possible if:
- They accept a caution from the police or have been charged with, or found guilty of, a criminal offence;
- Another regulator has taken action or made a finding against them; or
- They have had any restriction placed on their practice, or been suspended or dismissed by an employer, because of concerns about their conduct or competence.
This is in accordance with Standard 9.5 of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. A failure to notify will likely result in fitness to practise proceedings. It is important to seek legal advice about this as soon as possible.
The HCPC Fitness to Practise process
If the HCPC receives a concern about a health and care professional’s fitness to practise, then it will firstly consider whether the concern is within its remit to investigate. This assessment takes place during their triage stage.
If the HCPC considers the concern is within its remit, it will then carry out an initial investigation to obtain the relevant information about the concern. Once it has completed its initial investigation, it will assess the concern and the information obtained against its threshold criteria for fitness to practise investigations. This is to decide whether the concern and information amounts to a concern that the Registrant’s fitness to practise may be impaired.
If the concern meets the threshold criteria, the case will be referred to the Investigating Committee. If this happens, the Registrant will be notified of the referral and the allegations being made against them. They will have the opportunity to respond (in writing) to the allegations. The Investigating Committee meets in private (meaning there is no hearing) and decides on the papers whether there is enough evidence that the Registrant has a case to answer. They decide whether it is likely that a Registrant’s fitness to practise is likely to be found to be impaired by a Final Hearing Panel based on the evidence before it.
The Investigating Committee may decide:
- That there is no case to answer. The case will be closed and that will be the end of the matter;
- That it needs further information to be able to make a decision. The case will be referred back to the HCPC to carry out further investigation, following which the matter will come before the Investigating Committee again (which is likely to be made up of a different Panel);
- That there is a case to answer. The case will be referred to either the Conduct or Competence Committee or the Health Committee for a Final Hearing
If the Investigating Committee decides there is a case to answer, the matter will be passed to one of the HCPC’s solicitor firms to carry out further investigation. Once it has completed its investigation, a Final Hearing date will be set. The HCPC’s solicitors will serve their bundle of evidence on the Registrant, and the Registrant will have time to consider this and respond.
The Final Hearing usually takes place in public. The HCPC will present its case, following which the Registrant has the opportunity to present their case. The Panel will consist of three members; one lay member, one member of that profession and one Chair (who could be either a lay member or a member of the profession). After hearing the evidence, the Panel will make a decision on the following:
- Whether the facts alleged by the HCPC have been proven;
- If so, whether they amount to misconduct, lack of competence or a health concern (“the statutory ground”); and
- If so, whether that means the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.
The HCPC has to prove its case to the civil standard, namely ‘on a balance of probabilities’.
If the Panel decides that the HCPC has proven all or some of the facts, they amount to one or more of the statutory grounds and the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired, it will go on to decide the appropriate sanction. Possible sanctions include:
- No action
- Conditions of practice
- Strike off
A Panel can impose an interim order on a Registrant where it considers that such an order is:
- Necessary for protection of the public;
- Otherwise in the public interest; and/or
- In the interests of the Registrant concerned.
An interim order can be imposed at any point during the fitness to practise proceedings, and the primary concern for the Panel will be managing risk the Registrant may pose should they be permitted to continue practising unrestricted. A Registrant may be suspended or subject to conditions of practice if an interim order is imposed.
Why should I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
We have extensive experience in handling HCPC investigations from the outset where focus on the relevant issues and quality written submissions are of paramount importance. In particular, Vicky Lankester previously worked at Kingsley Napley, one of the HCPC’s panel firms, investigating concerns on behalf of the HCPC. She has first hand experience of what the HCPC takes into account during its investigation and in-depth knowledge of its decision-making process. This is invaluable to preparation of a Registrant’s defence.
We also have a range of expertise at the firm to deal with related matters such as criminal prosecution and privacy proceedings. We will undertake a detailed analysis of the issues in the case at the outset and give you straightforward and honest advice on strategy.
We have long-standing working relationships with the best regulatory KCs and junior barristers to match your budget, whom we can instruct to advise in more complex cases and to represent you at interim order hearings or Final Hearings if the need arises.
We are recognised in the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners directories for our work in the field of professional discipline. The department is described in the Legal 500 2024 directory as a “Brilliant boutique firm – dedicated and they get brilliant results”.
How do I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
You should contact one of our team to discuss your case and arrange a preliminary consultation. We will provide you with written details of our fee structure. The first step is to attend a preliminary consultation. At the consultation we will advise you on the investigation, talk through the relevant practice and legal issues, and set out your options. We will review relevant documentation ahead of the consultation. The consultation will help you to understand your position and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take.
Consultations take place in our London office or by Zoom/Teams/telephone. We can also travel to you.
To request a consultation please send us an email, complete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 3627 5739. If emailing or using the online form, please provide a short outline of your situation.
Details of the cost of a consultation will be provided following your enquiry.