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Consensual Disposal

What is Consensual Disposal?

Consensual Disposal is a process whereby complaints are dealt with directly between the Register and the practitioner against whom it has been raised. in a report prepared for the Professional Standards Authority (2019) Dr Paul Sanderson defines consensual disposal as “the means by which regulatory panels and registrants can avoid the need for a contested hearing by reaching agreement to conclude cases by deciding in private the outcome that the panel would most likely have reached if hearings were to be contested and held in public.”

This process has the benefit of establishing a satisfactory resolution to a complaint in a shorter timescale without incurring the costs, anxieties and inconvenience of a formal hearing process. 

The decision to propose this approach resides with the Professional Conduct Review Committee (PCRC) although the complainant will be invited to offer an opinion on this approach which will be taken into account by the PCRC.

There are specific obligations on the part of the practitioner if this process is to followed, being that the practitioner:

  • can request handling through consensual disposal, or could be invited to do so by the PCRC;
  • must admit to the behaviours or actions asserted by the complainant;
  • show a degree or remorse and outline a clear personal learning from the situation or circumstances underlying the complaint;
  • be willing to comply with any proposed outcomes or sanctions decided by the PCRC

If these conditions are satisfied, and there is no reasonable contest received from the complainant, then the complaint will proceed to be dealt with by means of consensual disposal and as such there will be no formal hearing of the complaint.

Where the complaint is recognised as being one of significant professional malpractice or misconduct then the complaint cannot be resolved through consensual disposal.

The Consensual Disposal Process

In the event of proceeding with consensual disposal a subgroup of the PCRC will be convened (3 individuals assigned by the Chair). 

The sub-group shall review the complaint and any response received from the practitioner under the framework of the Register’s and Malpractice and Maladministration Policy, Depending on that outcome then proposed actions will be decided in-line with the Register’s Sanctions Policy.  

All decisions reached by consensual dispersal will be adjudicated independently by a PCRC sub-group not involved in the original review and decision.

The final proposal based on these findings will be notified to practitioner in writing and they will have 28 days to review and accept. This will take the form of a consensual disposal agreement and will be signed by the Chair of the PCRC. The complainant will at the same time be advised of this outcome.

The ultimate agreement will still be deemed to be a disciplinary decision and treated as such. It will be notified to both the practitioner and the complainant. The practitioner shall be expected to comply fully with all actions outlined. The decisions and actions imposed will be published in accordance with the conditions of the Register’s Professional Conduct Notices.

Any material breach of the terms of the consensual disposal agreement by the Practitioner will be referred to our Sanctions Policy and may result in termination of registration, with readmission not being permissible for at least three years. Such a decision will be published in accordance with the Register’s conditions of Professional Conduct Publication.

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