Professional Conduct Procedure

1.    PURPOSE AND SCOPE

1.1.    Membership of the Federation of Holistic Therapists (“FHT”) is a privilege and a responsibility.  Membership is granted at the discretion of FHT acting through its staff and Governing Council who retain the right to suspend or cancel membership of FHT when necessary.  All FHT members have a responsibility to uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and to act professionally at all times.  When an Individual has failed to do so either by any act or omission, the following Professional Conduct Procedure will be followed.

1.2.    It is the responsibility of the FHT member and any complainants to ensure that they fully understand the Professional Conduct Procedure. This procedure forms an essential part of FHT’s commitment to the protection of the public and the Membership of the FHT. Members are required to inform any client who indicates that they have a complaint or grievance about the existence of this procedure. If requested to do so, the Individuals should inform their clients about how they may obtain further information concerning these procedures. Further information may be obtained by contacting FHT directly.

1.3.    This procedure is not contractual, but is intended as a statement of current policy.  The FHT reserves the right to amend this procedure as necessary to meet any changes in requirements.


2.    INTRODUCTION 

2.1.    Aim
The aim of the Professional Conduct Procedure is to afford protection to the public, and the members of the FHT.

2.2.    Bringing an allegation of complaint
An allegation can be brought by:

2.2.1.    a member of the public seeking or using a service provided by a member of   the FHT; or
2.2.2.    a member against another member; or
2.2.3.    an interested third party against a member, or
2.2.4.    notification of removal from another voluntary or state regulated professional body, or
2.2.5.    criminal investigation proceedings against a member
2.2.6.    the Governing Council of the FHT against a member
2.2.7.    the FHT is made aware of an insurance claim which may bring into question a     members fitness to practise.

2.3.    Timescale

2.3.1.    Whilst there are no time limits on complaints, we recommend they are made as near to the event as possible to ensure that evidence and details are up to date and accurate.

2.3.2.    All records will be kept for a period of two years only, excluding the details of the formal complaint, the formal response, the decision of the Professional Conduct Panel and the Appeal decision and sanction which will be kept for six years. Exceptions or extensions may be considered depending on the nature and content of the complaint.


3.    MAKING AN ALLEGATION

3.1.    The allegation must satisfy the following conditions:

3.1.1.    It is a breach of the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice of the FHT in force at the time the alleged breach occurred, and/or concerns an allegation of one or more of the following Heads of Complaint: professional misconduct, professional malpractice, or bringing the FHT or the therapy industry into disrepute.  

3.1.2.    The allegation must be relevant to their work as a member of FHT

3.1.3.    The member is named and is a current member of the FHT

3.1.4.    The complaint is submitted in writing on the FHT Complaint Form and received in full by the FHT Registrar

3.1.5.    The allegation is not made anonymously.

3.2.    An allegation not satisfying the above conditions will not normally be considered. If however, the information given relates to professional misconduct or serious allegations about an FHT member’s fitness to practise, the allegation may be reviewed.

3.3.    If FHT is notified of criminal investigations or convictions this will be will be dealt with as if raised as a complaint and will usually result in immediate suspension awaiting further information.

 
4.    PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT PROCEDURE

4.1.    The Registrar will check the allegation as meeting section 3.1, referring it back for further information/clarification, or to reject it. 

4.2.    If the allegation is rejected, the complainant will be notified accordingly. No further action will be taken unless further evidence is received.

4.3.    If the allegation is accepted, it will then be treated as an official complaint. 

4.4.    Once the allegation is accepted as a complaint, the complaint form and supporting information supplied will be copied and sent by recorded delivery to the FHT member for comment. The FHT member will be given 14 days to respond. Failure to respond will be taken into account.

4.5.    The Registrar has discretion to interview relevant parties including the Complainant and/or member if deemed appropriate.

4.6.    If the member holds insurance through the FHT, the details of the complaint will be sent to the insurance underwriter.

4.7.    The FHT may request that the member remove mention of any affiliation to FHT whilst the complaint is being investigated. This includes the use of membership certificate, membership card, FHT member badge, use of the FHT logo on websites and marketing literature. The FHT reserves the right to request return of all FHT collateral as it sees fit.


4.8.    After 14 days, the case will be referred to the Professional Conduct Panel.    

4.9.    The Complainant and member will be notified in writing of the date the complaint has been put before the Professional Conduct Panel. 

4.10.    Suspension and termination of rights of membership or association with the FHT
The FHT may suspend the rights of membership of the member, pending the outcome of the Professional Conduct Procedure when, having regard to the nature of the complaint, it appears appropriate and just to do so in all the circumstances. Details of said suspension will be updated to the FHT Register to include: members name, registration number, date of suspension, details of the suspension. Such detail will listed as deemed appropriate to protect the public and will be at the discretion of the Registrar.

4.10.1.    No liability for any loss suffered, or expenses incurred, will attach to the FHT for the suspension or termination of membership or rights of membership or association even where a complaint is not upheld.

4.10.2.    Suspension and termination of membership or association with the FHT may entail the loss of all rights and privileges given by FHT.  This may include the loss of access to the FHT’s Group Scheme Insurance cover, FHT Accreditation and cancellation of policies held by the Individual.

4.11.    Lapsed Membership

4.11.1.    Failure to renew membership or associate links by an Individual member during the Professional Conduct Procedure will not normally terminate the process.

4.11.2.    An Individual’s resignation from membership or association with the FHT will not terminate nor invalidate the Hearing by the FHT.


5.    THE PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT HEARING

If required to attend a Professional Conduct Hearing as deemed necessary by the FHT, the Member and Complainant will be invited to attend and provided with information to explain the process.

5.1. Criminal Investigations

Where the FHT is notified of an ongoing criminal investigation or criminal conviction, this will result in immediate suspension of membership rights pending further information from the police.  The member will be notified of the suspension in writing and as per paragraph 4.6., if the member holds insurance through the FHT, details of the complaint will be sent to the insurance underwriters. The complaint will not be eligible for examination by a Professional Conduct Panel at this stage as the FHT is not permitted to question the parties involved in a criminal investigation, or carry out its own investigation, while a criminal investigation is in progress.

5.1.1. Details of said suspension will be updated on the FHT Register under the ‘Suspensions’ section to include:  the member’s name, registration number and date of suspension. These details will remain on the webpage for the duration of the criminal investigation, even if the individual’s membership lapses.

5.1.2. In the event that an individual is found guilty in a court of law this will result in permanent termination of membership and association with the FHT. Other accredited registers will be notified of any individual that has been removed from the FHT Complementary Healthcare Register for misconduct.

5.1.3. If the criminal investigation has been concluded and the member found not guilty, the complainant has the right to file an official complaint with the FHT, and the matter will be investigated and details will be passed to Professional Conduct Panel to examine.

5.2.    Professional Conduct Panel

The Professional Conduct Panel will be made up of three members of the Governing Council of the FHT, not including the President who will act in the case of an appeal (see section 7). Where deemed necessary an expert in the particular treatment involved may be asked to join the Panel.

5.3.    Conduct

It is the duty of all parties involved in the Professional Conduct Panel to comply with the Professional Conduct Procedure. Any failure to comply may result in the termination of the Membership and Association with the FHT.

5.4.    Purpose

The purpose of the Professional Conduct Panel is to examine the complaint and decide whether it is proved or not. If proved, the Panel will decide any action required.

5.5.    Declaration of interest

Members of the Professional Conduct Panel have a duty to declare any interest, which may be considered to affect their impartiality or is likely to be thought to do so.

5.6.    Venue

Professional Conduct Hearings will be held at or within the vicinity of the FHT’s Head Office, other than in exceptional circumstances. 

5.7.    Presence of a companion/support person

If required to appear at the Professional Conduct Hearing, either party concerned may be accompanied by a companion for support but the companion may not speak on behalf of the party concerned.

5.8.    Attendance by witnesses

The Professional Conduct Panel, Complainant and member may call witnesses to attend the Hearing. Parties wishing to call witnesses must notify the Registrar of the names and details of such witnesses not less than 14 days prior to the date fixed for the hearing. The Panel has discretion to refuse attendance by a witness if it reasonably believes that such attendance is not relevant or will not add any weight to the issue(s) under consideration. The Panel may question witnesses and either party connected with the case. All costs incurred by the member, and/or witnesses, in attending the Hearing will be their responsibility.

5.9.    Written evidence

The Complainant and the member must submit written evidence and/or submissions and witness statements in advance of the Hearing. The Registrar must receive such papers not less than 14 days prior to the date fixed for the Professional Conduct Hearing. Such papers will be circulated to the Professional Conduct Panel, the Complainant and the member, at least 7 days prior to the Hearing. The Professional Conduct Panel may take advice on these papers, any other evidence, and procedural matters from the FHT’s solicitor or such other relevant person as may be deemed appropriate.

5.10.    New evidence

The Professional Conduct Panel will determine whether or not new evidence will be accepted on the day of the hearing. The Panels decision is final.

5.11.    Failure to attend the Professional Conduct hearing

5.10.1    Where a Complainant or member is invited to the Professional Conduct Hearing and fails or refuses, without good reason or notice, to attend; the Professional Conduct Panel has the power to decide either:

I.    To proceed with the hearing in the absence of one of the parties;

II.    To adjourn the hearing to a date not less than 14 days in advance; 

III.    To terminate the proceedings.

What constitutes good reason shall be solely at the discretion of the Professional Conduct Panel. 

 
6.    FINDINGS 

Decisions made by the Professional Conduct Panel require a majority. The Professional Conduct Panel, having regard to the findings, may impose one or more of the following outcomes. 

6.1.    COMPLAINT NOT UPHELD

If the complaint is rejected by the Panel, the FHT member and Complainant will be formally notified in writing. 

6.2.    WARNINGS:

6.2.1.    Stage 1 - First Warning

If as a result of the Professional Conduct Hearing, action by the member is deemed necessary, then a formal warning will be given to them (confirmed in writing). This warning will give details of the following:

•    A description of the conduct or performance complained of 

•    In a case where improvement is required, the nature of that improvement and how the member is expected to achieve this must be specified.  The period in which this improvement (if any) is expected to take place and the need to sustain the required standard thereafter must also be listed

•    The consequences of failing to improve as required or of further misconduct.  It will warn that further, more severe disciplinary action will be taken if there is further misconduct and/or a failure to improve

•    Details of any updates to their FHT Register listing

•    The member’s right to appeal.

A First Stage Warning will remain active for a period of six months subject to adherence by the member.


6.2.2.    Stage 2 - Final Warning

In the event of further repetition of the misconduct or a failure to comply with the request for improvement, the member will be invited to attend a Professional Conduct Hearing.  This stage can be commenced without the need for Stage 1.  If as a result of this Hearing action is deemed necessary then a final warning (in writing) will be given. This will give details as follows:

•    A description of the allegation

•    The improvement required (if any) and the time scale for this to take place

•    The consequences of failing to improve as required or of further misconduct.  It will warn that termination of membership and associate links will result if there is further misconduct or no satisfactory improvement 

•    Details of any updates to their register listing

•    The member’s right to appeal.

All final warnings will remain active for a period of 12 months.


6.2.3.    Stage 3 – Termination of Membership or Association with the FHT

In the event of further misconduct, refusal or failure to improve, a Professional Conduct Hearing will be called with the member.  If disciplinary action is felt to be necessary as a result of this meeting, then the membership and association of the FHT may be terminated without notice.  The outcome of this meeting will be confirmed to the member in writing, along with details of the member’s right to appeal.

Details of the removal from FHT membership will be included on the FHT Register.

 

6.3.    FINDING OF DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS  

Any sanction imposed will depend upon the Professional Conduct Panel’s assessment of the seriousness of the offence and, where appropriate, a consideration of the member’s existing disciplinary record. The member will be given an explanation for any disciplinary sanction imposed.

Details of the sanctions will be included on the FHT Register.
 

7.    TERMINATION OF RIGHTS

The FHT may terminate the rights of membership of the member at any time during the Professional Conduct Procedure, if this is the appropriate sanction. This may be done prior to any Appeals Procedure. Details of said terminations will be updated on the FHT Register to include: members name, registration number, date of termination and the section of the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice which the member has breached. Such detail will be listed as deemed appropriate to the findings and at the discretion of the Registrar to protect the public.

The FHT will notify the member of any suspension or termination of membership or of any rights of membership or entitlement to the Association. 


8.    APPEALS PROCEDURE 

8.1.    The member may appeal on the grounds detailed in paragraph 8.3 below.  An appeal against the finding of the Professional Conduct Panel must be submitted in writing by the deadline given (see paragraph 8.4), be accompanied by any supporting documentation and sent to the FHT Registrar.

8.2.    An appeal can be made against the findings of the Professional Conduct Panel and/or sanction imposed.

8.3.    An appeal will be considered on any of the following grounds:

8.3.1.    That the facts were found against the weight of evidence

8.3.2.    That the outcome is disproportionate to the finding of the Professional   Conduct Panel and is unjust in all the circumstances

8.3.3.    There is evidence to suggest that a procedural impropriety may have had a material effect on the finding and decision of the Professional Conduct Panel

8.3.4.    There is new evidence that was not available at the time of the Professional Conduct Hearing.

8.4.    Timescale for appeal

Any appeal must be submitted in writing, specify which grounds it is submitted under and be accompanied by any supporting documentation and served upon the Registrar within 14 days of notification of the decision and/or sanction of the Professional Conduct Panel. 

8.5.    Format of Appeal Hearing

The President of FHT shall conduct appeals.  Where there is an appeal this shall be by way of a re-hearing of the evidence.

8.6.    Notification of decision

8.6.1.    The President of the FHT will report the appeal decision to the Registrar who will implement its decision. This decision will be final.

8.6.2.    The decision of the President of the FHT will be notified to the respective parties in writing within 14 days of the appeal hearing.