Information for Witnesses
If the Investigating Committee
decides to send your complaint to the Professional Conduct Committee
or Health Committee
we will contact you. A hearing will be scheduled and you may be asked to give evidence.
A hearing usually takes place within nine months of the Investigating Committee’s decision to send it to the Professional Conduct Committee or Health Committee. Sometimes it can take longer, for example, if key witnesses are not available at the time planned for the hearing due to illness.
The date, time and place of the hearing will be put onto the GCC website here 28 days beforehand. The details of your complaint will be set out in the form of allegations against the chiropractor and will also be put on the website.
Hearings are held in London. We will book you into a local hotel and pay the bill for you. Please tell us if you have any special needs, such as wheelchair access or any dietary requirements.
We will pay any reasonable expenses connected to your appearance as a witness at a hearing. This includes:
- travel costs
- car parking
- loss of earnings
- other arrangements for relatives or partners who depend upon you for their care
When you arrive at the hearing, a member of staff will meet you, take you to a waiting room and you will be asked to wait until it is your turn to give evidence to the committee. There will be a staff member there to answer your questions and make sure that you have enough to eat and drink during the day. If you wish, you can bring a relative or friend to keep you company while you are waiting.
A hearing is a formal proceeding where the allegations of the complaint are argued by two legal teams and a decision is made by the committee - whether the chiropractor is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. There are usually three committee members, one of which will be a chiropractor. A barrister will also sit with the committee to give it legal advice.
The GCC will be represented by a barrister or a solicitor, or perhaps both.
Usually the chiropractor will have a barrister or solicitor to put their case in response to the allegations that the GCC has made.
The GCC must prove the allegations (charges) against the chiropractor, and that the chiropractor is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or incompetence, or unfit to work as a chiropractor for health reasons.
Your name will not be used during the hearing or in documents we publish. You will be called, for example, Mr A or Ms B, or Patient A or B.
Hearings are usually held in public. This means that anyone can attend. Sometimes a hearing, or part of a hearing, may be held in private if confidential or intimate information about you, or other witnesses, is to be considered; or if the case involves a child or a vulnerable adult.
Health committee hearings are usually held in private unless the chiropractor decides otherwise. This is because medical information, confidential to the chiropractor, needs to be considered.
You will have a key role as a witness for the GCC and will give oral evidence about your complaint to the committee.
Before giving your evidence you will be asked to take an oath, or affirmation, in the same way you would if giving evidence in a court of law. Someone from each legal team, a barrister or a solicitor, will then ask you questions. Members of the committee may also ask you questions.
It is important that you answer all the questions put to you clearly and accurately. To help you focus on the questions being asked it is usually best to try to keep your answers short.
When you are being questioned please say if you:
- do not understand the question
- do not remember something
- do not know the answer
- want a short break.
The people who sit on GCC committees know that it can be difficult for witnesses to give evidence. It can be a stressful experience for anyone and they know that you are likely to be nervous. The chair of the committee will make sure that you are not put under any unnecessary pressure. The chair and the GCC’s barrister or solicitor will make sure that you are treated fairly and with respect during the hearing.
Once you have given your evidence you can stay and observe in the public area, unless the committee has decided that the hearing should be in private.
The decisions made by the committees are looked at by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This is the organisation that promotes best practice and consistency in regulating healthcare professionals. If the PSA thinks the decision is too lenient they can refer it to the courts. On the other hand, if the chiropractor you have complained about thinks the decision is wrong or too harsh, then they can appeal to the courts – but only on a point of law.