Conduct issues generally relate to behavioural acts or omissions and often go to the question of character. The conduct pathway allows us to manage complaints that may constitute unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) and we consult on the management of all complaints. Where it is agreed there are grounds for a complaint of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct, the matter is referred to the HCCC for investigation.
As part of the investigation, the HCCC may obtain statements from the practitioner, the complainant and other relevant parties. The HCCC also has the power to require any information, including by executing a search warrant or seizing medical records.
At the end of an investigation, the HCCC will give the practitioner an opportunity to respond to its findings.
What happens when we receive a complaint about conduct
We may manage less serious conduct complaints by directing a practitioner to attend a counselling meeting about their conduct.
Counselling is intended to:
- inform and remind practitioners about their professional responsibilities,
- assist practitioners in finding ways to enhance and improve their practice and
- provide insight into the ethical standards underpinning professional practice.
Counselling is not designed as a disciplinary measure, but rather as an educative process. The counselling interview is confidential, informal and largely advisory in nature.
If we are satisfied with the outcome of the counselling interview, that will be the end of the matter. However, if during the course of the interview, further issues come to light that give rise to concern, or if we are not satisfied with the outcome of the discussion, we may raise a new complaint that will be handled through an alternative pathway.
We may deal with more serious conduct complaints by conducting an inquiry at a meeting of the Council. If we make a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct, we may do any one or more of the following in relation to the practitioner who is the subject of the inquiry:
- caution or reprimand the practitioner
- make an order for the withholding or refunding of part or all of the payment with respect to the fees charged or paid for the services that are the subject of the complaint
- direct that specified conditions relating to the practitioner's practice of the health profession be imposed on the practitioner's registration
- order that the practitioner seek and undergo medical or psychiatric treatment or counselling (including, but not limited to, psychological counselling)
- order that the practitioner complete an educational course specified by the Council
- order that the practitioner report on his or her practice at the times, in the way and to the persons specified by the Council
- order that the practitioner see and take advice, in relation to the management of his or her practice, from persons specified by the Council
Following consultation with us, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) may refer its investigations to the Director of Proceedings to determine whether the complaint should be prosecuted before NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).