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Background and purpose of the consultation 

The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) regulates chiropractors in the UK, Isle of Man and Gibraltar to ensure the safety of patients while undergoing chiropractic treatment. It is an independent statutory body established by, and accountable to, Parliament to regulate the chiropractic profession. It protects the health and safety of the public; by:

  • Promoting standards: It will set, assure compliance, and promote educational, professional and registration standards alongside lifelong learning.
  • Developing the profession: It will facilitate collaborative strategic work to support the profession's development.
  • Investigating and acting: It will take right-touch action on complaints, the misuse of title or where registration standards are not met.
  • Delivering value: It will be a great place to work, work collaboratively and deliver effective and efficient services.

Background

In 2020, the GCC acted quickly, flexibly, and responsibly in adapting to significant challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed restrictions. Social distancing and other measures introduced by the government in March 2020 meant that Fitness to Practise (FTP) hearings could no longer be held in person. By May 2020, the GCC had determined which FTP hearings could proceed and be heard remotely, alongside providing the necessary training to Committee members.

In drafting this Hearings Protocol, the GCC reviewed its existing protocol for holding remote hearings introduced in March 2021, incorporating feedback, insights and learning acquired through participants’ experiences, including defence representatives, panel members and legal assessors.

The GCC also reviewed the guidance for regulators on fitness to practise hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic published by the Professional Standards Authority in September 2020.

Having held 21 remote PCC hearings since 2021, the GCC believes there are no disbenefits to holding remote hearings, with their suitability for individual cases being carefully assessed and considered each time. Although there are some cost savings in holding hearings remotely, the GCC believes that factors such as fairness and justice should determine which format a hearing should take.


The Consultation

The GCC invites views on its draft Hearings Protocol in this consultation. Once agreed, it will replace the protocol on remote hearings, published in March 2021.

In summary:

  • We have called this the Hearings Protocol to signal a conscious move from a Remote Hearing Protocol.
  • Our starting point in determining the format of a PCC hearing is neutral.
  • We have seen advantages for participants in holding hearings remotely, equally as opposed to a default position to hold remote hearings.
  • A set of factors are identified as being relevant when considering the appropriate hearing format.
  • We provide more information on the conduct of the hearing and the procedure to be followed.

Documents

The draft Hearings Protocol on which we invite comments.

The equality impact assessment of the Hearings Protocol, with comments invited within the consultation.


Ways to respond

Submissions to this consultation can be made online (see below) or by email at enquiries@gcc-uk.org (click here to download the consultation document)


Closing date

The deadline for responses to this consultation on the draft Hearings Protocol is 31 August 2022 at midnight. The consultation will be publicised and stakeholders will be invited to comment.

Hearings Protocol online consultation

Information in responses, including personal information, may need to be published or disclosed under the access to information regimes (mainly the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the General Data Protection Regulation, the Data Protection Act 2018, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004). If you would prefer your name not to be made public, please indicate this when sending us your views.

The GCC is a data controller registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. We use personal data to support our work as the regulatory body for chiropractors. We may share data with third parties to meet our statutory aims and objectives and when using our powers and fulfilling our responsibilities.

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