In the last ever issue of “The Osteopath” by the General Osteopathic Council, GOsC Director of Fitness to Practise “helps demystify the process”.
The General Osteopathic Council’s Investigating Committee is one of three GOsC committees. The Investigating Committee (IC), meets in private to consider cases that have been referred to it by a screener, considering whether there is a case to answer against an osteopath.
If the IC decides there is no case to answer, the case will be closed. If the IC decides there is a case to answer, a hearing will be arranged before one of GOsC’s two fitness to practise committees; Professional Conduct Committee or Health Committee.
How does the Investigating Committee determine whether there is a case to answer?
The IC makes its decisions based on evidence – or a ‘bundle’ – that can include witness statements, patient records and expert reports. It is important to remember that the IC does not reach decisions on the facts or make findings of fact. Instead its function is to decide whether there a real prospect of a finding of impaired fitness to practise.
“Real” means there must be a “genuine possibility, as opposed to a remote or fanciful possibility.”
What if someone falls below the required standards?
Clearly action will need to be taken where necessary. However, it is noted that the IC will consider if an osteopath has taken “remedial action, fully reflected and demonstrated meaningful insight” in which case the IC will take this into account when deciding whether it’s in the public interest to refer a case for a hearing.
To what extent do the Investigating Committee and the Professional Conduct Committee communicate with each other?
Sheleen McCormack, the GOsC’s Director of Fitness to Practise, wrote “they don’t!” Panellists never discuss individual cases or concerns with each other, or indeed with anyone else except for the other panellists or the legal assessors on the case.
Life after “The Osteopath”
The GOsC is embracing “different ways to listen and engage with osteopaths, patients and other stakeholders.”
Liz Niman, GOsC Head of Communications and Engagement said: “We will certainly continue to communicate key information to osteopaths, patients and others, but we aim to do this with a greater emphasis on two-way communication across our engagement, and by providing information that is clear, timely and relevant.”