Handling complaints: sharing the registrant’s response with the complainant
December 2009 good practice report arising from a finding in the 2008/2009 Performance Review which found there was variation across the regulators about sharing the registrant’s response to a complaint with the complainant.
One of the regulators’ core functions is to investigate concerns about health professionals when their fitness to practise has been called into question. The regulators each have their own fitness to practise processes for dealing with such concerns, but they follow the same overall approach. Once a complaint has been screened, an investigation will take place followed by a decision as to whether the allegation should be heard by a fitness to practise panel. It is during this stage that a regulator would seek a response from the registrant.
Why did we write this report?
Our 2008/09 Performance Review identified some variation between the regulators in whether they shared the registrant’s response with the complainant. Some shared it routinely, whilst others only did so in matters of dispute or not at all. We felt this was an area where it would be beneficial to complainants to harmonise the process.
The report found that the benefits to sharing the response outweigh the risks, as it can help to bring information to light, establish an accurate record of events to decide if a case should proceed to a fitness to practise hearing and lead to the early resolution of a case by providing clarification to the complainant.
While there are circumstances when a response would not be shared in full, there should be a presumption of sharing and registrants should be informed of this at the outset.