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Handling Complaints

The Register’s Compliments and Complaints Policy encourages services users and members of the public to resolve their concerns directly with practitioners under their own processes. However, we recognise that there are often circumstances where clients, service users, members of the public and other practitioners may need to bring complaints about poor or unethical practice directly to our attention so we can take appropriate action.

Bringing these situations to our attention serves to protect both the public and the reputation of the profession.

Review of Complaints

On receipt of a complaint the Professional Conduct Review Committee (PCRC) will carry out an initial triage. PCRC will consist of not less than three persons, including at least one lay person.

PCRC decisions will be made on a majority basis.

Investigation and Assessment

The PCRC will consider the matter on the papers presented (unless it considers that fairness requires an interview). Both the complainant and the practitioner will be expected to make written representations to ensure a balanced and objective consideration of the complaint. 

The PCRC may request further information or make further investigations as it considers appropriate, including interviewing the complainant and/or the practitioner. All available information deemed appropriate can be considered, whether or not the complainant has specifically referred to it as a matter of complaint.

Interviews will only be undertaken if it is not possible to reach an objective decision based on the written information provided. Interviews wherever possible online using video conferencing tools.

The PCRC will assess whether or not conditions presented warrant investigation, or the complaint should be dismissed.

The Register considers the following conditions to be the test as to whether or not a complaint warrants proceeding (“the proceedings test”):

  1. the facts alleged would (if proven) amount to a failure to meet professional standards; and
  2. there is a realistic prospect that facts justifying a finding of such a failure will be proved; and
  3. that it is in the public interest for the complaint to be dealt with by way of the Malpractice and Maladministration Policy

If the PCRC consider that a complaint should be dismissed it will notify the parties and provide reasons for its decision.

If the PCRC finds grounds for proceeding the complaint, it will set out the formal allegations based on the findings of the proceedings test is met, and specify whether it is an allegation of professional misconduct. In this situation the case will be handled under the Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.

The PCRC shall own the complaint process from receipt to decision, including any subsequent disciplinary recommendation.  

Where there are no allegations of professional misconduct, the PCRC will consider the need to undertake a less formal practice review.

Formal allegations

Where the PCRC deems it appropriate to proceed the complaint it will notify the practitioner and the complainant of the formal allegations in writing. 

Both parties will at this time asked whether they require additional support or assistance through the procedure, and whether they wish to supply any additional information. Where additional support is requested the PCRC will consider the most appropriate solution and advise the party/parties accordingly.

The practitioner must formally respond to the allegations in writing within 28 days of notification. The complainant will be provided with a copy of the Member’s formal response to the allegations.

The practitioner may, in their response, request that the complaint be dealt with directly between themselves and the PCRC by way of consensual disposal. The PCRC shall consider whether it is appropriate to deal with the complaint in this way; it may also recommend handling via this process, subject to the agreement by all parties.

The PCRC may also make a recommendation for handling by consensual disposal, in this case it will invite the practitioner to consider this approach.

Where the Practitioner does not provide a formal response in accordance with the above, the PCRC may add an additional allegation that the Practitioner has failed to co-operate with their obligations to The Register.

Referral for Disciplinary Hearing

If no agreement is reached to proceed with consensual disposal, or in the process no outcome is agreed, or where the outcome of tests (1) to (3) under “Investigation and Assessment” have confirmed proceeding, them the complaint shall be referred to a formal hearing.

The Disciplinary Hearing Process

Disciplinary hearings are formal hearings. They are generally held in private unless the PCRC decides this is not in the public interest. They will held bub a designated sub-group (minimum of 3 individuals, not including the Chair) from the PCRC.

The complainant is invited to attend as a witness and may be asked to give details of the complaint or answer questions.

The practitioner may be accompanied by an independent companion who may support or speak on their behalf.

Both parties may call witnesses, if agreed beforehand. 

Both parties will be advised by email at least two weeks in advance of such hearings, whether they are invited to attend or not. Attendance is not an obligation. Where parties choose not to attend the meeting will continue in their absence and decisions reached on information available.

If the case is between the Register and a practitioner, a representative of the Register will present the complaint.

The PCRC (or a representative thereof) should:

  • explain what is understood of the complainants case;
  • go through the supporting evidence presented;
  • make sure that all sessions are minuted

The practitioners shall be given the chance to:

  • set out their case
  • answer any allegations
  • ask questions
  • show evidence
  • call relevant witnesses (with appropriate advance notice)
  • respond to any information given by witnesses

The practitioner’s companion shall be allowed to:

  • support their case
  • respond for the practitioner where appropriate to any points made at the meeting
  • talk with the complainant during the hearing
  • take notes

At the end of the hearing the PCRC will adjourn to consider it’s decision.

All parties will be made aware of the next steps and the intended timetable for reaching a decision. All parties will thereafter be advised in line with that decision.

In the event that additional information proves to be required then all parties shall be informed.


Depending on the nature of the complaint and the outcome of either any practice review or disciplinary hearing a number of actions are available for recommendation in-line with the Sanctions Policy, as follows:

  • advise the practitioner on how they can resolve or develop their practice and support them by issuing improvement plans including SMART objectives
  • publish details of the complaint and any sanctions (see our Publication policy) on our Professional Conduct Notices page
  • withdraw or remove them from The Register
  • or, if they fail or refuse to comply with the outcome of the complaints process or imposed sanctions, we may also withdraw their membership
  • notification of findings to other accredited registers, organisations or agencies where it is deemed appropriate and or in the public interest.

All final decisions by the PCRC will made in line with the terms of the Complaints and Malpractice and Maladministration Policies.

The decisions reached be adjudicated independently by uninvolved members of the PCRC, or the Chair where appropriate or necessary.

The PCRC shall confirm all proposed sanctions and publications in line with the Sanctions Policy, and specific conditions relating to Professional Conduct Notices.

If a complaint is dismissed, or the Complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome, they may make a written request under the terms of the Appeals Policy

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