Do you know how many committees the General Osteopathic Council has for dealing with complaints? The answer is three – the Investigating Committee, the Professional Conduct Committee and the Health Committee. The three committees for investigating allegations against osteopaths are statutory with their specific functions laid down in the Osteopaths Act 1993.
If a complaint is made against an osteopath there are several stages that take place.
This committee conducts the initial investigation into a complaint against an osteopath. The complaint may include unacceptable conduct, incompetence or ill health.
Professional Conduct Committee
This committee hears cases of unacceptable conduct, incompetence or criminal convictions. In cases that are proved sanctions are imposed on the osteopath.
Considers cases where osteopath is alleged to be in poor physical or mental health. Appropriate action is then taken.
Panels will consist of three members – 2 lay and 1 osteopath drawn from the pool on each committee.
A formal Complaint
When a complaint is received by the GOsC the following process takes place:
A screener from the Investigating Committee examines the evidence and decides whether there is a case to answer. There are threshold criteria for unacceptable professional conduct which assists the screener.
If the screener decides the complaint should be investigated then the osteopath is given 28 days to provide a response to the complaint. Evidence may be gathered from other people and a response from the complainant. Osteopaths receive support from their insurer, the Institute of Osteopathy and colleagues.
The Investigating Committee panel examines all the information provided. They may find there is no case to answer if they do not believe the evidence supports the complaint. If there is a case to answer the case will be referred t the Professional Conduct Committee. An interim suspension order may be imposed if it is felt necessary to protect the public. Health related problems will be referred to the Health Committee which meets in private and may impose conditions or suspend registration.
Professional Conduct Committee hearings are public. Osteopaths may have a legal representative at the meeting. Witnesses are called to testify including the complainant. The outcome may be serious incompetence, unacceptable conduct or a conviction for a serious criminal offence. The committee will announce its decision on the day usually. Sanctions that may be imposed include an admonishment, conditions of practice, suspension from the register or removal from the register.
This is a legal process which follows formal procedures and must abide by the Osteopaths Act 1993.
Hopefully this has helped to give you an understanding of how complaints are investigated by our regulator. It should give you reassurance that there are robust procedures for the public protection.