Who is affected?
Professionals such as dentists, social workers, hearing aid dispensers, pharmacists and many more are all regulated and all have ‘protection of title’. This means that only those on the register of the relevant regulator can legally call themselves, for example, a dentist, an architect or a social worker.
Impact on individual registrant
If issues of conduct and competence arise, registrants can be brought before their regulator’s ‘Fitness to Practise’ panel. Regulators hold a great deal of power over those professionals whom they regulate and Fitness to Practise panels can effectively prevent registrants from gaining employment or they can impose conditions on the scope of their practice.
The seriousness of the alleged misconduct does not necessarily relate to the severity of the sanction applied. The registrants’ engagement with the process, their insight into the issues, and their credibility as a witness, has, in our experience, the most significant bearing on the level of sanction applied.
Our regulatory team has recently represented a health care professional who was referred by his regulator – Health and Care Professions Council – to the Fitness to Practise panel to respond to four serious allegations. Possible sanctions faced by our client included being struck off or suspension. These are punitive, effectively career-ending, sanctions.
Obtaining a successful outcome
After a two-day hearing, involving expert cross-examination of the witnesses, contributing effective submissions and making persuasive representations on his behalf, the conduct panel found that his fitness to practise was not impaired and no sanctions would apply. The client remains able to practise with no restrictions and he was exceptionally grateful for our assistance.
Fitness to practise issues can arise in most regulated sectors. Our regulatory team is well experienced in such matters and we are uniquely positioned to assist in such cases even where the allegations appear to be indefensible.