This is part of a series of briefings about the Fitness to Practise investigations process for healthcare professionals.

It is common for regulators’ codes of conduct to impose an obligation on Registrants to co-operate with investigations or complaints procedures.

HCPC Standard 9.6 states:

”You must co-operate with any investigation into your conduct or competence, the conduct or competence of others, or the care, treatment or other services provided to service users.”

Whilst the GMC’s Good Medical Practice states:

“You must cooperate with formal inquiries and complaints procedures and must offer all relevant information while following the guidance in Confidentiality.”

Why fitness to practise investigations must be investigated

Registrants are sometimes frustrated when they perceive that their regulator is investigating a complaint with no merit. They wonder why they must labour under the stress of an investigation which they perceive will inevitably be closed with no action. It is important to recognise that the regulator’s process is set out in statute. The person with day-to-day conduct of the regulator’s investigation does not have any decision-making power. Even where the case investigator might readily appreciate the weakness of the evidence against the practitioner, it is only the designated decision-maker who can terminate the investigation.

The precise nature of the designated decision-maker varies between regulators. They are typically either a pair of decision-makers acting together and known as Case Examiners, or a Committee known as the Investigating Committee. In the majority of cases they will only make a decision about the further progress of the case after the Council have concluded their preliminary evidence gathering, formulated allegations and afforded the Registrant an opportunity to provide written submissions. The role of those decision-makers at the filtering stage is explored in other briefings.