The complaints process is often an area of uncertainty for employers, complainants and regulated members. Much of this uncertainty comes from misunderstanding the process, which often fuels many misconceptions.
Over the next few weeks, the College will be publishing information on the complaints process. In this article, we will discuss some of the things that happen when a complaint is referred to an investigation.
As a recap to our previous article about the initial complaints process: a complaint has been submitted to the College about you. When this happens, you are given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. The Complaints Director can either dismiss the complaint, try to resolve the complaint, can make a direction under section 118 of the HPA for the member to cease practicing or refer the complaint to investigation. The full article can be found here.
Once a complaint has been referred to investigation, the investigator collects all the details/facts related to the alleged in the complaint. The College has two staff members who carry out the functions of investigation. The benefit to having College staff perform this role is that they are able to work within the College structure and resources, and offer significant cost savings over a contracted individual.
What happens in an investigation?
When a complaint goes to an investigation, the regulated member will receive:
- A notice indicating that an investigation will be conducted
- The name of the investigator
- A copy of the signed complaint report form (the practitioner is entitled to know the name of the person who submitted a complaint against them)
- Information regarding their right to be represented by legal counsel
- Direction to cooperate with the investigator
The investigator will:
- Interview the complainant
- Collect relevant documentation and other evidence
- Speak to witnesses
What information does the regulated member receive?
The investigator may copy or keep copies of any of the items produced; and may investigate any other matters regarding the investigated member that arises in the course of the investigation.
Conclusion of the investigation
Once the investigation is complete, the investigator prepares an objective report that details the facts collected in the investigation process. The investigation report is submitted to the Complaints Director to review.
After reviewing the report, the Complaints Director must decide if there is sufficient evidence of unprofessional conduct. This means addressing the following questions:
- Was the regulated member responsible for the incident(s)?
- What factors contributed to the incident(s)?
- Did the actions of the regulated member fall under the definition of unprofessional conduct?
- On a balance of probabilities, how likely is the tribunal to make a finding of unprofessional conduct?
The Complaints Director will then make the decision to refer the matter to a hearing or dismiss the complaint.
How long does the investigation process take?
Every effort is taken to complete a thorough investigation in a timely fashion; however, there are many individuals involved in the process and the time to complete an investigation is variable and dependent on many factors, including complainant, regulated member and witness(s) availability.
If you would like to reference this information and more on the Complaints Process, please view the Complaints section of www.abparamedics.com. Next article we will walk you through what happens during the hearings process; but if you are curious now, please visit the Hearings page of the website.