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Fitness to Practise

If you are enrolled on a course which leads to professional registration (such as Nursing, Medicine or Pharmacy) and your conduct raises concerns about your suitability to enter that profession, you may face Fitness to Practise proceedings. Fitness to Practise concerns about conduct can be about your personal conduct, not just your conduct on placement. The University may be concerned if you have a health condition which you are struggling to manage, which will in turn impinge upon your fitness to practise.

A student adviser can help you respond to these concerns, prepare a written submission and represent you at any hearings.

Remember that if you are a member of a social networking site, you are responsible for what you publish on the internet. If you are on a course which leads to professional registration or working with vulnerable people, you should be mindful about what you post on social networking sites so that your fitness to practise is not questioned.

Remember that if you are a member of a social networking site, you are responsible for what you publish on the internet.

Useful Links

Fitness to Practise Academic Regulations

Fitness to Practise Quick Guide

Concern Arises about your FTP

Your Responsibilities

Fitness to practise is ensuring that as a student on a professional programme you are aware of your health and conduct at all times and are safe to be around patients, clients and members of the public.

You must:

  • Ensure your behaviour is professional on placement, in University and in your personal life;
  • Ensure you remain mentally and physically fit and seek support if your health deteriorates or impacts on your ability to study or engage with placement activities.

If anything arises that may affect your fitness to practise you must seek advice. To choose not to disclose something can be a serious breach of your professional body rules and is usually more serious than the issue you are reporting.

Reporting something cannot automatically remove you from the Programme. The University will always consider whether support can be put in place to enable you to continue. It is a strength to admit you need support.

Examples of Actions that would Bring your Fitness to Practise into Question

  • A breach of the University’s Rules of Behaviour or Professional Body or Statutory regulations;               
  • Substance misuse;
  • A criminal offence including any caution or reprimand or an ongoing investigation by the police or a relevant professional, regulatory or statutory body;
  • A failure to advise the University of a criminal offence including a caution or reprimand;
  • Physical or verbal abuse or intimidation of fellow students, patients, clients, colleagues, university staff or members of the public;
  • Failure to rectify behaviour that has been subject to any disciplinary actions under the University's regulations;
  • Repeated unprofessional behaviour;
  • Falsification of documents, clinical, personal or academic records, data or research material;
  • Publishing, including via social networking sites, inappropriate material including statements and images;
  • Physical or mental health condition which, despite reasonable adjustments or treatment, affects a student’s fitness to practise;
  • Breaches of confidentiality;
  • Bringing the University or the profession into disrepute

Examples of things that have gone to Committee

  • Twitter comments regarding placement
  • Screenshots from a Facebook conversation
  • Student signing a mentor sheet on behalf of a mentor
  • Student removing hospital apparatus from hospital
  • Student not providing a DBS certificate
  • Student receiving a caution
  • Student developing a health condition that prevents them from safely practising following reasonable adjustments being put in place
  • Student sending inappropriate emails to staff and students
  • Students publishing photos of themselves in uniform on the ward
  • Student falsely stating that they had undertaking clinical placement hours
  • Student being reported for using cannabis
  • Student being on the ward smelling of alcohol

What Happens if I Report Something?

During your time at University you have a duty as a student on a professional programme to report anything you are concerned about relating to you or another student that might impact upon someone’s fitness to practise.

Your concern will be dealt with confidentially and only shared with staff on a need-to-know basis. However, if you are reporting another student’s conduct then the information you provide and your identity will usually be shared with that student.

Reporting a Health Concern

You may already have a condition that worsens or changes, or you may develop a health condition during your Programme. You must ensure the University is aware of any conditions that may affect your fitness to practise.

If you report a change or a new condition the University will refer you to occupational health services to ensure all appropriate support and reasonable adjustments can be put in place.

If your condition has an impact on your fitness to practise once appropriate support and reasonable adjustments have been put in place then this will need to be considered using the Fitness to Practise Procedure. The investigation may include liaising with your doctor or healthcare team to be able to make an accurate and detailed assessment of your health.

Reporting your own Conduct

If you receive a caution, police warning or criminal conviction or are aware that you have broken any laws or University rules then you must report this to your Personal Tutor. If you do not immediately report any issues to the University this in itself is a further breach of the Fitness to Practise Procedure.

Depending on how serious the conduct is, the University may suspend you from placement or the programme during an investigation. The University will usually wait for any outstanding police matters to be resolved before investigating.

Suspension will be assessed on the basis of risk that you pose to the University community, members of the public and patients. To assess this risk, a risk assessment will normally be taken in line with the Fitness to Practise Procedure.

Reporting Another Student's Conduct

All professionals have a duty to report behaviour if they believe it is putting patients at risk. If you are worried about something that you have seen then talk to your Personal Tutor.


Head of School Considers Whether to Investigate / Suspend You

The Vice-Chancellor or nominee and Head of School shall be governed solely by principles of justice, fairness and safety in dealing with any suspension. The power to suspend under this provision is to protect the members of the University community in general (or a particular member or members), patients, professional clients or members of the public.

The power shall be used only when a risk assessment is conducted and as a result the Vice-Chancellor or Head of School is of the opinion that it is urgent and necessary to take such action.

Suspension is never automatic, and shall only be used where, after careful consideration of the facts as they stand at the time, it appears to the Vice-Chancellor or Head of School that this is the appropriate course of action.

Where you appear to present a risk to patients, clients or members of the public but you do not appear to present a direct risk to the scheduled teaching of the Programme or the University community the decision may be made to suspend you from placements or clinical settings but not from academic studies.  Examples of when this might be appropriate include an allegation relating to the falsification of medical documents or a health condition that appears to present risk to the public in a placement or clinical setting.

Additionally, please be aware that if you are on placement, the placement provider may ask you to leave and withdraw the placement opportunity.

Letter Confirming any Investigation / Suspension in Place

If you receive a letter regarding a fitness to practise investigation or suspension, do not panic. The University has a process that will take place and an investigation into all the circumstances will now begin.

You will be given the name of the Investigating Officer who will investigate your case. This person is likely to meet with you to understand the full details of the matter. The Investigating Officer may ask you for evidence that relates to your health or conduct.

Meet with Investigating Officer / Occ. Health as Part of Investigation

The Investigating Officer will give you the following information in advance of the meeting:

  • The reason for the meeting;
  • The purpose of the meeting;
  • A copy of the concern and accompanying evidence;
  • A copy of the Fitness to Practise Procedure;
  • The staff who will be in attendance at the meeting;
  • Your right to be represented or accompanied by someone during the meeting;
  • For students of the University: the contact details of Student Advice in the Students’ Union who can provide independent advice on any University procedure.

If you are unable to attend the meeting then it should be re-arranged at a mutually convenient time providing that this would not lead to unreasonable delay.  If you are unable to attend in person then the meeting can take place via video link or telephone.

You have the opportunity to challenge the evidence presented and offer alternative evidence to defend yourself during the investigation and any subsequent hearing.

A record of the meeting will be provided within 7 calendar days and if there is a dispute as to the content you can submit a statement confirming why you do not believe the meeting record is accurate. This should be included in the investigation documentation that is submitted to the Head of School.

If, following the fact-finding meeting, the Investigating Officer believes that your health may have impacted on your conduct an Occupational Health referral will be made.

Following this meeting, it may be necessary to meet again with you if further information has emerged during the investigation.  Sometimes due to the nature of the allegation it may be necessary for the Investigating Officer to meet with other parties before meeting with you.

You are Sent an Investigation Outcome Letter

Following the investigation, the Head of School will either dismiss the issue and no further action will be taken, or refer it to a Committee. You will be informed of the decision and the reasons for it by letter.

If you are invited to a meeting or a Committee at any point remember you can:

  • Bring a supporter or representative with you;
  • Have 1 week’s notice of meetings and 2 weeks’ notice of Committees;
  • Have a copy of all the information to be discussed in advance;
  • Seek independent advice from the Students’ Union or your professional body;
  • Provide a written statement or evidence in advance;
  • Speak to a member of staff if you are worried or have questions;
  • Seek support from University Student Support Services or your doctor.

School FTP Committee

Who are the Panel Members?

  • A senior member of staff from the School who shall be Chair
  • A member of staff in the University from a cognate discipline; and
  • Where required, a member of the profession the student’s Programme leads to, who is external to the University.  

What can you do before and during the Committee?

  • Seek advice about the information that you should present;
  • Submit a written statement and evidence before the Committee;
  • Consider whether you should call any witnesses to the Committee;
  • Consider bring a representative or someone to support you during the Committee;
  • Reflect on the concern and the relevant University and professional body regulations;
  • Attend the Committee and present a verbal statement about the concern and answer any questions posed to you.

What are the Possible Committee Outcomes?

Following consideration of all of the information presented, the ciommittee may take one or more of the following actions:

  • Dismiss the concern;
  • Issue an informal warning which will not be placed on the student’s record;
  • Issue a formal warning to be placed on the student's record, which will be taken into account if any future breaches of the Procedure arise for a time specified by the Committee;
  • Require the student to attend scheduled support sessions provided by the School, a University service or externally;
  • Require the student to write a reflective piece relating to health or conduct which will be supported and monitored by a specified member of staff;
  • Require the student to develop and complete an action plan in conjunction with a specified member of staff;
  • Require the student to continue to be monitored by the University Occupational Health Department and permit the student to continue on the programme with appropriate engagement with treatment and support;
  • Require the student to take an Interruption of Study for a specified period of time;
  • Refer the concern to the University Committee.

What Happens after the Committee?

  • You will receive the outcome in 7 calendar days;
  • You will be informed of your right of appeal if you are dissatisfied with the outcome and believe that you have grounds to appeal.

University FTP Committee

Who are the Panel Members?

  • A Pro Vice-Chancellor, College Dean or a Head of School, who shall be Chair;       
  • Two members of academic staff from Schools or Units with cognate disciplines;
  • A student member of Senate;
  • An external representative of the profession concerned, who may be from another university or the relevant profession.

What can you do at the Committee?

  • Seek advice about the information that you should present;
  • Submit a written statement and evidence before the Committee;
  • Consider whether you should call any witnesses to the Committee;
  • Consider bring a representative or someone to support you during the Committee;
  • Reflect on the concern and the relevant University and professional body regulations;
  • Attend the Committee and present a verbal statement about the concern and answer any questions posed to you.

What are the Possible Committee Outcomes?

Following consideration of all of the information presented, the Committee may take one or more of the following actions:

  • Any action listed under Section 3.7;
  • Require the student to make a formal written apology;
  • Suspend the student for a specified period of time;
  • Require the student to re-sit part(s) of the Programme, where the regulations permit;
  • Require any other action considered appropriate by the Committee to enable the student's successful completion of the remainder of the Programme;
  • Withdraw the student from a current Programme, but permit the student to transfer to an alternative non-professional programme;
  • Exclude the student from the Programme and from the University.

What Happens after the Committee?

  • You will receive the outcome in 7 calendar days;
  • You will be informed of your right of appeal if you are dissatisfied with the outcome and believe that you have grounds to appeal.

You are Sent a Decision letter

You will always be given the outcome of the Committee in a letter within 7 days of the Committee taking place. This letter will give further details about any option to appeal that you might have.

If a Committee requires you to undertake some actions then you must adhere to them once you have received and accepted the decision of the Committee. If you do not follow the actions, a more serious sanction may be put in place.

You Can Appeal to the Academic Registrar

A student can appeal a Committee decision on the following grounds:

  • Procedural irregularities;
  • That the decision was unreasonable and could not be sustained by the facts of the case;
  • New relevant evidence unknown to the Committee when making their decision, where students can show good reason why they could not have provided the evidence at the Committee.

Students will be required to specify the grounds of appeal and any information or evidence they wish to be considered to the Academic Registrar within 14 calendar days of receiving the written decision.

The Academic Registrar is required to disallow an appeal which is based wholly on circumstances which were known to the Committee when the penalty was imposed, and may dismiss without a hearing an appeal submitted on any basis other than the permitted grounds or which is frivolous or vexatious.

Where an appeal is not dismissed, the Academic Registrar will refer the appeal for consideration by the Pro Vice-Chancellor.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor will consider the appeal documentation presented by the student alongside the formal Committee papers, the minutes of the Committee, the decision letter issued to the student and any other information they deem relevant.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor may uphold or modify the decision of the Committee or refer the appeal to a University Committee for further consideration.

The decision of the Pro Vice-Chancellor shall be final and normally issued within 28 calendar days of receipt of the appeal.

Chair of Committee Imposes Further Decision

Where the Head of School has considered that a student has not undertaken the required actions from a Committee, the Head of School will send a Non-Adherence Report to the Academic Registrar.

The student will have 14 calendar days to provide a response to the Non-Adherence Report.

The Chair of the Fitness to Practise Committee will then consider the Non-Adherence Report and the student’s response.

The Chair of the Committee will consider whether the student has undertaken the required actions.  If the student is found not to have undertaken the required actions, the Chair will determine if there is good reason. In these circumstances the Chair may choose to uphold the Committee’s original decision. In the case of failure to adhere to reasonable requests or where the student is unable to complete actions the Chair may choose to substitute a different decision, specified at the time by the Committee.

The decision of the Chair of the Committee shall normally be sent to the student within 28 days of the Non-Adherence Report being sent to the Academic Registrar.  The Chair of the Committee’s decision shall be final.

Chair of Committee Imposes Further Decision

Where the Head of School has considered that a student has not undertaken the required actions from a Committee, the Head of School will send a Non-Adherence Report to the Academic Registrar.

You are Sent the Decision and Completion of Procedures Letter

If the decision of the Pro Vice-Chancellor completes the internal Fitness to Practise Procedure then you will be eligible to raise a complaint with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator within 12 months of receiving the Completion of Procedures letter.  Information regarding how to do this will be included in the letter informing you of the decision.

The student will have 14 calendar days to provide a response to the Non-Adherence Report.

The Chair of the Fitness to Practise Committee will then consider the Non-Adherence Report and the student’s response.

The Chair of the Committee will consider whether the student has undertaken the required actions. If the student is found not to have undertaken the required actions, the Chair will determine if there is good reason. In these circumstances the Chair may choose to uphold the Committee’s original decision. In the case of failure to adhere to reasonable requests or where the student is unable to complete actions the Chair may choose to substitute a different decision, specified at the time by the Committee.

The decision of the Chair of the Committee shall normally be sent to the student within 28 days of the Non-Adherence Report being sent to the Academic Registrar. The Chair of the Committee’s decision shall be final.

Suspension

If the allegations made against you are of a serious nature then you may be temporarily suspended from placement and sometimes study until the Fitness to Practise investigation is complete

Useful Contacts

Student Advice and the Students' Union can be contacted for free, independent advice on any procedure.

Call us on (02920) 781410 or email them at advice@cardiff.ac.uk