GCC Fitness to Practise

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1. Who are the GCC and what is their “Fitness to Practise” code of conduct?

The General Chiropractic Council (“the GCC”) regulates chiropractors and sets the standards of chiropractic practice and professional conduct for chiropractors in the UK.

The GCC defines fitness to practise as a chiropractor having the appropriate skills, knowledge, good health and character to practise the profession safely and effectively. As with all regulators, the GCC expects their registrants to maintain the public’s confidence in the profession.

The GCC publish their code of conduct, referred to as “The Code: Standards of Performance, Conduct and Ethics for Chiropractors’, which sets out the standards for chiropractors.

The Code sets out eight principles that require chiropractors to:-

  • Put the health interests of patients first;
  • Act with honesty and integrity and maintain the highest standards of professional and personal conduct;
  • Provide a good standard of clinical care and practice;
  • Establish and maintain a clear professional relationship with patients;
  • Obtain informed consent for all aspects of patient care;
  • Communicate properly and effectively with patients, colleagues and other healthcare professionals;
  • Maintain, develop and work within their professional knowledge and skills;
  • Maintain and protect patient information.



2. What type of GCC Fitness to practise concerns will the GCC Investigate?

The GCC will investigate a variety of fitness to practise concerns including allegations relating to:

  • A criminal conviction/caution;
  • General misconduct;
  • Inappropriate professional boundaries;
  • Deficient professional performance;
  • Allegations of dishonesty, including misleading patients, altering patient records, or false information on a CV;
  • Making clinical diagnosis outside of expertise;
  • Substance misuse or other health concerns.



3. How do the GCC Investigate Fitness to Practise Allegations?

If the GCC receive a complaint about a chiropractor’s fitness to practise, they will write to the chiropractor to explain that a complaint has been made. They will give the chiropractor a copy of the complaint together with other relevant documentation. The chiropractor is then given the opportunity to comment on the allegation. It is important to get legal advice before responding to an allegation as how the case is presented at this stage is crucial.

Once the fitness to practise complaint has been investigated, the case will be referred to the Investigating Committee. The GCC’s Investigating Committee will then decide whether the chiropractor’s fitness to practise may be in question. If so, then they will refer the chiropractor to the GCC’s Professional Conduct Committee or the GCC’s Health Committee.



4. What happens before the GCC’s professional conduct committee?

The GCC’s Professional Conduct Committee will usually hold a hearing within 9 months of the decision from the GCC’s Investigating Committee to refer them. At the hearing, the Panel will hear the evidence and make factual decisions about the allegations. If the allegations are found to be proven, they will then decide if the allegation is well founded. If so they will impose one of the following sanctions:

  • admonish the chiropractor;
  • impose a condition of practice order;
  • suspend the chiropractor’s registration for a specified period;
  • Remove the chiropractor’s name from the register.



5. How can we help you with a GCC Fitness to Practise investigation?

Our GCC fitness to practise lawyers have a proven track record in professional disciplinary proceedings and have experience of representing a variety of health care professionals. We know how to prepare written representations to regulators and what they are going to be looking for. It is essential that a careful strategic decision is made regarding when to provide written representations, how much detail to go into and to strike the appropriate tone.

At hearings before the GCC’s Fitness to Practise Committee, when a chiropractor is denying allegations against them, we can defend robustly with expert cross-examination of the GCC’s witnesses. Where allegations are accepted, we know how to skillfully mitigate them.



6. What mitigation will the GCC take into consideration?

When there is an acceptance that something has gone wrong, we will seek to mitigate, to ensure that the chiropractor obtains the best possible outcome from the fitness to practise proceedings.

The GCC will take into consideration a variety of issues such as:

  • The chiropractor’s character and history;
  • Remorse;
  • Insight;
  • If the incident was isolated;
  • Remediation evidence, such as further training;
  • Lack of harm to patients;
  • Full engagement with the regulatory process;
  • Early admissions.
  • A personal development plan to address any shortcomings.



7. Ask another question

Do you have another question relating to GCC fitness to practise that hasn’t been covered in our guide? Feel free to ask Richard Nelson LLP’s GCC fitness to practise solicitors and we’ll endeavour to get back in touch with you as soon as possible.

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Get in touch for more information regarding GCC Fitness to Practise Investigations

If you are facing a GCC fitness to practise investigation, please contact our GCC Lawyers today for a free confidential telephone consultation.



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