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Journalist questions about fitness to practise hearings
What types of hearings are there?
We hold three types of hearings:
- Conduct and Competence Committee Panel hearings;
- Health Committee Panel hearings;
- Investigating panel hearings considering incorrect or fraudulent entry to the register
Health Committee hearings are usually held in private and are therefore closed to the press.
The following hearings are usually heard in public:
- final hearings heard by the Conduct and Competence Committee (CCC)
- interim order hearings heard by the Investigating Committee or the CCC
At any hearing, there is always the possibility that an application could be made to hear a case in private. If a panel does decide to hear all or part of a final hearing in private, the allegations will still be made public on our website, as will any decisions and reasons given for them.
The HCPC can make an application for an interim order if the Investigating or Conduct and Competence panel feels that an allegation is serious enough that the public might need some type of immediate protection. If this happens, a hearing will take place, often at short notice. A further panel will consider whether the allegation means that we should place conditions on the registrant’s registration or suspend their registration in the period before a final hearing will take place. However, in most cases, no application for an interim order is made.
Where are the hearings held?
The majority of hearings are held in London at the HCPC’s offices in Kennington. There are occasions when hearings are held in other parts of the UK. Additionally, if a registrant has a registered address in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, the hearing must be heard in that country. Please check the hearings schedule carefully.
Do you publish a schedule of upcoming hearings?
Yes, the communications department send out a weekly hearing schedule. If you would like to be added to the email distribution list, please email email@example.com
The hearings process:
Can I get a full list of the charges in advance of the hearing?
Allegations are made available on the website four weeks before their hearing date. Details of interim orders may be posted with less notice as these hearings are convened as soon as reasonably possible.
How many days do hearings normally last?
This can vary depending on the complexity of the case. Hearings can last from one day to a week or longer if necessary. There is also a possibility that a hearing may be adjourned at any point during the hearing. The communications team keep a list of journalists who are interested in specific ongoing cases. You can have your details added to the list by contacting the media and PR team on 44 (0)20 7840 9806.
Do registrants normally attend the hearing? Are they usually represented?
This varies; they have the right to attend and be represented if they wish to do so.
Can I interview the registrant or witnesses?
Hearings are a stressful time for health professionals and all witnesses involved. Please do not approach any parties yourself. If the Hearing Officer is available and is not busy, they may be able to pass on a request for you.
Can I interview the panel chair or members?
The panel chair and members do not talk to members of the press at hearings. Their decisions are those they announce publically and you are able to quote anything they have said in public session during the hearing if you are present.
Are cameras permitted in the hearing?
No, we do not allow photography or filming on HCPC premises / external venues but photographers and camera crews are permitted outside the hearing location. We ask that they are considerate to the registrant and the witnesses involved in the hearing.
Do you give out the full address of the registrant?
No, we only provide the town or city where they are registered, if applicable.
Can you tell me where the person was working at the time of the allegations?
This information is only available if it has been mentioned in public during the hearing. There are some instances where the allegations of misconduct are unrelated to the registrant’s place of work and therefore this information is not relevant and would not be mentioned.
What standard of proof do you use?
We use the civil standard of proof in line with the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, which states that the civil standard of proof should be the common standard for all health regulators.
How many cases do you hear a week?
Hearings numbers vary from week to week; please see the website for details.
How many allegations do you receive each year?
This information is contained with the Fitness to Practise Annual Reports, available for download in our publications section.
Are panel sanctions issued straight away once the hearing has concluded?
Details of when sanctions apply will be announced at the hearing. Registrants have a 28-day appeal period. Sometimes an interim order is imposed to cover the period of the appeal.
Are registrants who are struck off still listed on the HCPC register?
The HCPC online register only shows practitioners who are able to practice. This would include those under working under a conditions of practise order. Registrants who are suspended or struck off the Register will not appear on the online site once the sanctions have come into effect.
Is there an appeals process?
Yes, registrants have 28 days to appeal the outcome of the hearing.
What kinds of sanctions can you issue?
If the panel finds the case to be well-founded, they have the following options available. They can decide to:
- take no further action;
- impose a caution order. The ‘caution’ will appear against the registrant’s name on the register. Caution orders can be between one and five years long;
- impose a ‘conditions of practice order’ which is a restriction or conditions on the registrant’s registration. This might include that the registrant works under supervision or has further training for a certain period of time;
- suspend registration, this can be for up to one year; or
- make a ‘striking-off order’, .removing the registrant’s name from the register.
Do you publicise hearing outcomes?
Yes, we are required by legislation to publish decisions and the reasons given for them. There are available on the Fitness to Practise pages of the HCPC website. We also produce press releases based on hearing outcomes where registrants have been struck off or suspended.