New Fitness to Practise Procedure
The BPC is introducing a new Fitness to Practise Procedure on 31 January 2022, which will replace the existing 2016 Complaints Procedure.
Why introduce a new procedure?
During the BPC’s recent annual reaccreditation review by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), the PSA raised concerns regarding the BPC’s current Complaints Procedure and requested written confirmation of how the BPC proposed to address the concerns raised by 24 August 2021. These criticisms, coupled with the need to have a expeditious, transparent and modern regulatory system in place, has resulted in the BPC introducing a new Fitness to Practise procedure. For a summary of the PSA’s concerns, please click here.
The BPC is moving away from a pure complaints system per se e.g where the BPC receives a physical complaint from a patient or third party, to a Fitness to Practise procedure whereby concerns regarding a registrant’s Fitness to Practise holistically, can be brought to the attention of the BPC or a concern raised by the BPC in connection with information received from a third party.
As explained on the BPC’s webpage on Fitness to Practise, the BPC quality assures that all Registrants on our public register are Fit to Practise as a BPC Registrant. If concerns are raised regarding the Registrant’s practise, health, good character or conduct suggesting that the Registrant’s current Fitness to Practise may be impaired, the BPC will investigate the concerns raised and take action where needed. For further information regarding the term ‘impairment’ of Fitness to Practise, please click here.
Has the BPC consulted on this new procedure?
The BPC has consulted on the new Fitness to Practise procedure as follows:
- 21 May 2021 – The BPC proposed the new Fitness to Practise procedure to the BPC’s Ethics Committee (comprising of an Ethics Lead from each Membership Institution (‘MI’)) and provided them with a 42 page document detailing the proposed changes. The BPC invited comments and feedback from the BPC’s Ethics Committee in advance of the meeting, during the meeting and after the meeting.
- 18 June 2021 – The BPC discussed the proposed new Fitness to Practise procedure again during the BPC’s Ethics Committee meeting and answered questions from the BPC’s Ethics Committee representatives orally and in writing, where written comments were provided. During both of the Ethics Committee meetings on 21 May 2021 and 18 June 2021, the BPC offered to hold virtual meetings with MI’s to discuss the concerns raised with the Head of Regulation, Chief Executive and BPC’s Chair of Ethics.
- 25 June 2021 – The BPC provided the Council with the same documentation provided to the BPC’s Ethics Committee and discussion ensued. Again, the BPC offered to discuss the proposed changes with MI’s either in writing or remotely via a meeting. The BPC informed the Council that in order to meet the PSA’s deadline of 24 August 2021, the Board of Trustees would need to make a decision on the proposed changes at the meeting on 9 July 2021. Therefore, all comments and feedback needed to be received before 9 July 2021.
- 16 October 2021 – The introduction of the new Fitness to Practise Procedure was again discussed by the Council and the BPC’s Chief Executive offered to hold meetings with any MI’s who wished to discuss the proposed changes in further detail.
- Between August and November 2021 – The BPC virtually conducted individual meetings with the MI’s who wished to discuss the proposed changes.
- 26 November 2021 – The BPC’s Board of Trustees approved the new Fitness to Practise procedure bar Hearings being held in public. The BPC will formally consult on public hearings in the latter part of 2022. In the meantime however, Hearings will continue to take place in private.
- 17 December 2021 – The BPC sent an ‘End of Year Fitness to Practise Roundup’ email to Registrants explaining the term Fitness to Practise, the consultative journey the BPC had undertaken regarding the new process, and stipulating when the new Fitness to Practise Procedure would take effect.
- 20 January 2022 – The BPC sent an email reminding Registrants that the new Fitness to Practise Procedure would take effect on 31 January 2022 and notifying them that the Procedure and associated guidance documents are on the website.
Why have I not heard of this new procedure before?
The BPC has consulted with the BPC’s Ethics Committee and Council representatives on these proposed changes. The BPC’s MI’s were invited to discuss the changes internally and with their own membership. Going forward, the BPC will be writing to each Registrant individually notifying them of the introduction of the Fitness to Practise procedure and further information will be enclosed within emails and the BPC’s eNewsletter.
When will the new procedure take effect?
The new Fitness to Practise procedure will take effect as of 31 January 2022 and all the associated process documents will appear on the website accordingly.
What changes are being introduced under the new procedure?
The new procedure will incorporate the following changes, amongst others:
- Introduction of Acceptance Criteria e.g. a complaint or concern has to meet a threshold prior to being formally accepted for investigation by the BPC
- A simpler ‘Realistic Prospect’ test e.g. the test applied by the Screening Committee when deciding how best to dispose of the concern/complaint
- Elimination of the Practice Review Procedure and instead enabling the Screening Committee to issue Letters of Advice and Warnings
- Introduction of Decision Review e.g. the decision of the Screening Committee can be subject to review providing the criteria is met
- Introduction of Agreed Panel Disposal e.g. cases where facts and impairment are conceded by the Registrant can be decided by a Panel on the papers alone.
What happens if I am subject to the 2016 Complaints Procedure as of 31 January 2022?
If you are subject to the 2016 Complaints Procedure as of 31 January 2022, the complaint will continue to follow the process detailed within the 2016 Complaints Procedure. If you are referred to the Hearing Panel by the Screening Committee, the BPC will liaise with you directly regarding other options that maybe available to you.
If you have any queries or concerns regarding the new procedure, please contact your MI’s Ethics Committee at first instance. If they are unable to assist, please contact the BPC at firstname.lastname@example.org