Complaints and Disciplinary Policy and Procedure by wvd19904


									                                         Complaints and Disciplinary
                                               Policy and Procedure
Information Sheet No. A7                                                                                        Revised July 2003

                    1. INTRODUCTION                                       The person complained against will be given a copy of the
The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) is                    complaint, including the name of complainant, and a copy
responsible for holding the National Register of trained                  of the Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure.
psychotherapists. As a member organisation of the UKCP, the           WHEN A COMPLAINT IS ACCEPTED
Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK
(AFT) is required to set standards for those who wish to be           2.2 If the Ethics Committee is unclear as to the nature of the
registered, to handle the registration process and to deal with           complaint or it appears that the complaint does not involve
complaints in a manner which is consistent with the UKCP                  SPM, the committee will explore the complaint (this usually
guidelines.                                                               involves correspondence to gather further information from
                                                                          the parties involved).
Registered psychotherapists are expected to adhere to the
member organisation’s Code of Ethics and Practice as approved         2.3 If the Ethics Committee decides that the complaint possibly
by the appropriate UKCP section. Serious professional misconduct          involves serious professional misconduct (SPM) it will be
may lead to suspension or expulsion of the therapist from AFT             formally investigated by an Investigation Committee.
and to removal from the UKCP register.
                                                                      2.4 All subsequent evidence pertaining to the complaint from
Non-registered members of AFT (either qualified family therapists     either party will be available to all parties throughout the
who have not registered with UKCP through AFT or other                proceedings.
professionals using family therapy ideas i.e. systemic
                                                                      2.5 If it comes to the notice of the Ethics Committee that a
practitioners) who bring the organisation into disrepute are
                                                                      criminal investigation is under way then it may initiate suspension
subject to discipline by the AFT board which may lead to
                                                                      of membership of AFT / UKCP registration.
suspension or termination of membership of AFT.
                                                                      2.6 The resignation of a member of AFT shall not be allowed to
Members of the public or other members of AFT who are
                                                                      impede the process of any investigation as long as the alleged
concerned about the ethical conduct of an AFT member should
                                                                      offence took place during that person’s membership. Later re-
bring this to the attention of AFT’s Ethics Committee who will
                                                                      application for membership will require the approval of the AFT
consider the matter according to AFT’s Complaints and
                                                                      Board and the UKCP will be informed of all actions.
Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. The Ethics Committee is
accountable to the Board of Directors of AFT.                         2.7 In cases where allegations are made regarding a criminal
                                                                      offence it will usually be appropriate to refer the case to the
If an allegation of serious professional misconduct (SPM) is
made, the Ethics Committee will constitute itself as a formal
Investigating Committee (IC) which includes lay members. If,
following investigation, it is clear that there is a case of SPM to    3. COMPLAINTS INVOLVING POSSIBLE SERIOUS
answer, the complaint will be heard by AFT’s disciplinary body,               PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT
the Complaints Committee. The Complaints Committee will               All complaints involving possible serious professional misconduct
adjudicate on the complaint and may impose a range of                 (SPM) by members of AFT will be formally investigated in
sanctions. A complainant or practitioner who believes that the        accordance with UKCP guidelines. This applies not only to
disciplinary action of AFT has not been fair or just may appeal.      members of AFT registered by AFT with the UKCP but also to
                                                                      other AFT members unless they are already subject to a formal
If the complaint does not clearly allege serious professional
                                                                      investigation by a professional body in relation to the particular
misconduct it will be considered in stages. The initial exploratory
stage will offer the opportunity of mediation and conciliation;
but should a prima facie case of SPM be established, a formal         INVESTIGATING COMMITTEE
investigation will commence.
                                                                      3.1 Upon acceptance of the complaint by the Ethics Committee
                                                                          of AFT, the Chair and at least two other committee members
                        2. COMPLAINT                                      will nominate five or more persons to conduct the
A complaint must relate to an alleged breach of the Code of               investigation. The Investigating Committee (IC) will consist
Ethics and Practice of AFT and be with regard to a named                  of one or more lay persons and four Ethics Committee
member of AFT. The complaint must be in writing.                          members (or AFT Board Members). They would be expected
INITIAL STAGES                                                            to be totally impartial, and to declare any interest that might
                                                                          prejudice this. Alternative names will be provided until both
2.1 Upon receipt of a written complaint the Executive Officer of          parties agree.
    AFT will pass it on to the Chair of the Ethics Committee (EC).
                                                                      3.2 The IC will appoint a lead investigator who will co-ordinate
    The EC will acknowledge receipt of the complaint and the              the investigation, arrange interviews with the relevant
    Chair and at least two other committee members will                   parties, and collate written submissions and other
    determine whether the complaint falls within the Code of              documentary evidence.
    Ethics and Practice.
3.3 The IC will consider the evidence gathered and decide            this role, and who are impartial. This person (or persons) will
    whether there is a case of SPM to answer. A member of the        arrange to meet with the complainant and the therapist
    IC will then present the case at the formal hearing of AFT’s     complained against, separately and / or together, and explore
    disciplinary body, the Complaints Committee.                     the nature of the complaint in detail. Areas of agreement and
                                                                     disagreement between the parties involved will be sought.
                                                                     4.2 The outcome of the above meeting(s) will be notified in
3.4 A Complaints Committee (CC) shall be appointed to examine        writing to the Ethics Committee, which will determine whether
    and adjudicate on the complaint through hearing a                there is a prima facie complaint involving serious professional
    presentation, written and verbal, by both parties of their       misconduct (in which case a formal investigation will commence)
    positions. The Complaints Committee will consist of three to     or adjudicate regarding the complaint and make recommend-
    five members including one or more lay people, one or more       ations for future practice wherever possible. Should it be
    representatives of the UKCP Section, and one or more             decided that the procedure stops at this point, either through
    senior members of AFT. They will be expected to be totally       conciliation or inadequate reason to proceed, the UKCP will be
    impartial, and to declare any interest that might prejudice      notified.
                                                                     4.3 Should the complainant fail to attend a meeting with the
3.5 The complainant, and the therapist complained against,           investigating third party or refuse to proceed, without good
    may be accompanied at the Complaints Committee hearing
                                                                     reason or due notice, it will be assumed the complaint is
    by a ‘friend’ or adviser, who may represent them or assist,      withdrawn. Both parties will be notified to that effect, and no
    if they wish. They may also call witnesses in their support.     further action will then be taken.
3.6 The Executive Officer of AFT will be responsible for arranging   4.4 Should the therapist who has been complained against fail
    a suitable venue, and notifying all participants in writing,     to attend a meeting with the investigating third party, or refuse
    giving at least six weeks’ notice of the date.                   to be involved, the procedures will go ahead and, the Ethics
3.7 Written evidence from both parties will be required, and         Committee may recommend to the Chair of AFT that membership
    should be received by the Executive Officer at least three       of the organisation be terminated and that the findings of the
    weeks before the Complaints Committee meets, and will            complaint be published.
    then be distributed to all parties concerned. Limited further
    submission by either party may be accepted on the day of                                  5. APPEALS
    the hearing at the discretion of its members.                    Either party may appeal against the decision of a Complaints
3.8 At the Complaints Committee hearing a summary of both            Committee within four weeks of notification of the hearing’s
    parties’ cases will be put, beginning with the complainant’s.    outcome. The appeal should be in writing to the Executive
    Questions may then be put by one party to the other              Officer of AFT. Upon receipt of the appeal the Chair of AFT shall
    through the Chair: the complainant or his / her representative   nominate one or more members of AFT not previously involved
    will begin questioning. Finally, committee members may           to review the proceedings and ensure that they were correctly
    seek clarification from either party, or from witnesses who      carried out. Should there be evidence that the proceedings
    may have been called earlier. At any time during the             were not correctly carried out then they may recommend that
    procedure a recess may be called, at the instigation of the      a new panel be appointed to adjudicate the complaint once
    Chair of the committee or of either party at the discretion      again as in Section 3 above. An appeal may be made by either
    of the committee. When all required clarification that is        party to the UKCP on the grounds of improper procedure.
    material to the case has been gained, the Chair will summarise
    the case presented by the parties, who will then be asked to                 6. PUBLICATION OF FINDINGS
    withdraw while the committee considers the case in private.      Complaints regarding SPM which have been upheld will be
    An accurate record of the proceedings will be kept.              published in Context. This will include the name of the therapist,
                                                                     a brief description of the complaint, the sanctions imposed, and
3.9 The decision of the Complaints Committee will be notified        any general lessons which can be drawn from the case. The
    in writing to all parties involved within two weeks of the       name of a UKCP-registered psychotherapist who has been
    hearing date. The Chair of the Registration Committee will       removed from the register will also be published in The
    notify both the Chair of AFT and the UKCP of the outcome         Psychotherapist. Lessons learned from minor complaints which
    and of any sanctions recommended. Sanctions include              have been upheld will be reported anonymously in the Ethics
    suspension or termination of membership of AFT which             Committee’s annual report.
    leads automatically to suspension or termination of
    registration with UKCP.
                                                                                        7. ADMINISTRATION
                                                                     The Ethics Committee will generally decide whether there is a
    4. COMPLAINTS NOT INVOLVING SERIOUS                              complaint to answer within three months of the complaint
          PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT                                    being received. Following acceptance by the Ethics Committee
        (MEDIATION AND CONCILIATION)                                 that there is a complaint to answer, the subsequent procedure
This stage aims to gather information from both parties with         should generally be concluded within six months.
regard to matters around the complaint, and offers the possibility
of mediation and conciliation.                                       The protocols of the complaints procedure may be revised by
                                                                     the Ethics Committee of AFT from time to time, with approval
4.1 Upon acceptance of the complaint by the Ethics Committee         as required from the Chair of AFT and the UKCP. Feedback is
of AFT, the Chair and at least two other members of that             welcome. Only in exceptional circumstances will complaints be
Committee will nominate one or more persons to conduct this          acted upon that pertain to events more than three years
process. Alternative names will be provided until both parties       previously. The complainant and therapist complained against
agree. These names will be drawn from members of the Ethics          must be responsible for expenses incurred, including in making
Committee, the Board of AFT, or other senior family or other         submissions and in travel, and AFT cannot be held responsible
therapists who have the required experience and abilities for        in any way.

The Chair of the Professional Affairs Committee (PAC) welcomes general feedback and suggestions on Information Sheets and can be
contacted via Sue Kennedy, AFT Administrative Secretary, 12A Executive Suite, St James Court, Wilderspool Causeway, Warrington WA4
6PS. Tel: 01925 444414 Fax: 08701383881 Email: AFT is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England,
No. 3018026. Registered Charity No. 1063639. Registered office: 142 Garstang Road, Fulwood, Preston PR2 4NA.

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