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Fixing fitness to practise research page

What is fitness to practise? 

Fitness to practise is the process used by statutory professional regulators to handle complaints or deal with concerns made about health and care professionals on their registers. Although a range of complaints/concerns get raised with regulators they can only proceed with cases where:

  • the registrant in question can be identified
  • the concern that is raised is relevant to public protection
  • restrictions may need to be placed on the registrant’s registration.

All of the regulators are bound by an overarching objective to protect the public.

Why does fitness to practise need to be reformed?

Reform of fitness to practise is long overdue. The current process has evolved from a system of self-regulation by the professions themselves to a set of outdated and piecemeal legislation which:

  • leads to varied outcomes across the regulators
  • is confusing and complex to patients and the public, as well as professionals and employers
  • is inherently adversarial/combative due to the influence of criminal law which can be stressful for all parties and may not lead to a satisfactory resolution
  • is lengthy and expensive – some cases can take several years from the initial complaint to the final panel decision and require significant resource

duty-of-candour visual for page

Read our publications:

In these publications we discuss how the regulators' fitness to practise processes could be reformed to make them fairer, consistent and more transparent: changes that could be made without the need for legislation, but also set out more radical reforms using right-touch regulation principles.

Read our research related to fitness to practise:


Related material

Read our recent blogs about fitness to practise and why it is ripe for reform.

Look in our publications section for our other reports touching on fitness to practise. We also have powers to appeal the regulators' final fitness to practise decisions if we believe they are insufficient to protect the public. Find out more from our decisions about practitioners page or watch our short animation.