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Professional Defence Solicitors for Chiropractors
If your fitness to practise as a chiropractor has been called into question by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), our professional defence solicitors can help you through the investigation process.
We understand the impact an investigation can have on you, especially if allegations have been made against your professionalism. We will help you to build a robust defence to secure the best possible outcome.
Our team has represented a broad range of medical professionals, including chiropractors, and has extensive knowledge of the regulations set by the GCC.
To speak to a solicitor if you have received a notification from the GCC about a complaint made against you, contact us today by calling 0800 652 5559, or fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back at your convenience.
If your matter is urgent, use our 24-hour legal helpline 0800 804 8186 to access expert legal advice whenever you need it.
How JMW Can Help
The professional defence team at JMW Solicitors is experienced in representing chiropractors when dealing with the GCC, including any investigations and disputes. We will provide expert legal representation throughout proceedings, drawing on our extensive knowledge to create the strongest possible case for defence.
Our expert professional defence lawyers can provide advice and guidance on a range of regulatory issues, including:
- Advice during GCC fitness to practise investigations
- Help responding to the GCC Investigating Committee
- Representation at GCC interim orders hearings
- Preparation and representation at the Professional Conduct Committee or Health Committee
- Appeals against decisions made by the GCC
- Representation during police investigations and criminal proceedings
- Defence preparation for trial
What happens when a complaint has been made to the GCC?
Complaints that lead to an investigation can be made by the public, patients, colleagues or the police. Common reasons for complaint include unacceptable professional conduct, professional incompetence, adverse health issues, convictions or cautions. Investigations can also be triggered for being included on the barred list by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
The GCC will then notify you of an investigation in writing, including a copy of the complaint made against you. You will be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint. At this point, many chiropractors make the mistake of responding to the GCC without seeking legal counsel.
If you have received a notification of investigation, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible to discuss how you should respond to the GCC.
What is involved in a GCC investigation?
The way a GCC investigation proceeds depends on the nature of the complaint, but it may include:
- Gathering evidence, including health records from the complainant and other patients
- Seeking witness statements from the complainant, patients and any other witnesses
- Seeking comments from your employers/colleagues about your professionalism
Once all the relevant information has been collected, the GCC will pass the matter to the Investigating Committee who will make a decision about your fitness to practise.
If the Investigating Committee thinks you should be placed under inspection, your case will be referred to a formal hearing held by either the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee. You will receive a notification from the GCC if your case has been taken on by either of these committees, which will include details of why the matter has been referred.
What penalties can be imposed following a hearing by the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee?
If you are found unfit to practise by the Professional Conduct Committee, it can impose the following sanctions:
- Admonishment, which is a formal warning permanently attached to your file
- Registration restrictions, known as a conditions of practice order, which can be imposed for up to a maximum of three years
- Suspension, which means you are unable to register for up to a maximum of three years
- Removal from the register
Removal of your name from the register cannot be sanctioned by the GCC if your case relates to your ill health.
If the Health Committee oversees your hearing and finds you guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, it can:
- Impose a conditions of practice order for a maximum of up to three years
- Suspend your registration for a maximum of up to three years
Penalties imposed by either committee usually come into effect 28 days after receiving notification about a decision. This will either be on the day of your hearing if you are present, or when the notification has been deemed to have taken place should you not be present during the hearing. However, suspension or removal can be imposed immediately if it is considered necessary.
How long will a GCC investigation take?
The GCC states that it will aim to complete an investigation as quickly as possible, and will keep you and others directly involved up to date on its progress. It also states that an idea of how long its enquiries will take will be provided at each stage of the process.
While we will endeavour to resolve matters as quickly as possible, our main aim is to help you secure the outcome that you desire.
Can I continue to work while under investigation from the GCC?
You should be able to continue to work while an investigation is carried out; however, the GCC can refer you to an interim suspension hearing at any point during the investigation. This is usually imposed when a complaint raises an immediate concern for the safety of the public, and the GCC will provide at least 10-days’ notice of a hearing.
You have the right to attend an interim suspension hearing and to be legally represented.
Examples of complaints that may lead to an interim suspension hearing include:
- Allegations that a chiropractor’s ability to practise is seriously affected by a physical or mental condition
- Allegations of a sexual nature
- Certain criminal convictions (e.g. convictions for crimes motivated by racial or sexual discrimination)
- Allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a patient
- Inappropriate use of X-rays
- Misuse of drugs or alcohol
- Practising without the necessary professional indemnity insurance
- Verbal or physical abuse towards patients or the public
Following the hearing, if a decision is made to suspend your registration, an order cannot last longer than two months and will be in place during the investigation of the complaint. Once an interim suspension order is granted, it is effective immediately and is unable to be revoked.
Can I make an appeal against the GCC’s decision?
There is no provision in the Chiropractors Act 1994 to make an appeal against decisions made by an Investigating Committee. However, you are able to request permission to apply for Judicial Review of the committee’s decision.
If you wish to make an appeal against the decision made by either the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee, you have the right to make an appeal to the High Court in England and Wales. Appeals must be lodged with the relevant court within 28 days of being notified of a committee’s decision.
The professional defence solicitors at JMW can help you launch an appeal against the GCC quickly and effectively.
Talk to Us
If you are being investigated by the GCC, or do not agree with a decision made by the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee, we are here to help.