Like most regulators, the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) have seen an increase in the number of GOsC fitness to practise complaints about their registrants in recent times. The GOsC receives complaints from patients, other osteopaths, other health care professionals, the police as well as self-referrals.
GOsC fitness to practise rules
The GOsC screen all complaints to ensure that only those that genuinely raise fitness to practise concerns are put through their fitness to practise procedures. They aim to complete the screening of all complaints within 3 weeks.
If the complaint gets through the screening process, the GOsC will conduct a fitness to practise investigation into an osteopath. They will usually write to the osteopath to invite their response to the complaint. They will conduct further investigation, then refer the fitness to practise complaint to their Investigating Committee.
The GOsC’s Investigating Committee will then examine the documentation gathered in the investigation. They will decide whether there is evidence of:
- Unacceptable Professional Conduct (UPC);
- Professional Incompetence;
- Criminal conviction relevant to the osteopath’s work;
- Medical conditions seriously affecting the osteopath’s fitness to practise.
As a regulator, the GOsC front load their investigation, so by the time the case reaches the Investigating Committee, the osteopath is well placed to fully understand the nature of the allegations against them and the extent of the evidence. This is, therefore, a genuine opportunity for the osteopath to put their side of the situation in writing and to seek to persuade the GOsC’s Investigating Committee that they are fit to practise and that there is ‘no case to answer’.
At Richard Nelson LLP we have a proven track record for writing persuasive written representations for Investigating Committees, ensuring that our clients get the best possible opportunity of ensuring that wherever possible, they do not end up in a full fitness to practise hearings.
The GOsC aims to have cases reach the Investigating Committee stage within 4 months of their receipt of the complaint. When making a decision about a case, the Investigating Committee will use the GOsC’s Threshold Criteria. The Threshold Criteria is the GOsC’s written guidance, setting out what issues the Investigating Committee should refer to a full fitness to practise hearing either before the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee.
The GOsC aim to have cases heard before their Professional Conduct Committee within 52 weeks of the receipt of the complaint, which is usually achieved.
A GOsC fitness to practise hearing before the GOsC’s Professional Conduct Committee will then make a factual finding where this is contested. They will then consider in light of the factual finding, if the conduct amounts to unacceptable professional conduct (UPC). If so then they will consider the most appropriate sanction.
The sanction options for the Professional Conduct Committee are:
- Conditions of Practice;
The Health Committee only has the options of imposing a Conditions of Practice Order or by suspending the osteopath’s registration for a set period of time.
The rules of the Professional Conduct Committee (rule 8), does in limited circumstances, allow for a case to be disposed of without the need for a full hearing. For this, the registrant must admit the allegations and that the facts amount to unacceptable professional conduct. In this situation, it may be possible for a sanction such as an admonishment to be agreed.
Have a question?
Do you have a question relating to GOsC fitness to practise that hasn’t been answered in our guide? Feel free to ask Richard Nelson LLP’s GOsC fitness to practise solicitors and we’ll endeavour to get back in touch with you as soon as possible.
Our expert fitness to practise lawyers are happy to take enquires from osteopaths. We offer a free initial telephone discussion about your case, to enable you to decide on the best strategy and the most appropriate legal advice and representation for you.