Review of decision making in our fitness to practise procedures
What were the key findings?
The decisions reached by our staff in all 187 reviewed fitness to practise case files were found to be appropriate and in line with the guidance and criteria set out for decision-makers.
There was no evidence of bias or discriminatory practice either in the wording of our guidance and criteria documentation for decision-makers, or the sampled case files that might explain differences in outcomes for certain groups of doctors.
Previous research exploring why certain groups are more likely to be involved in formal disciplinary procedures have not found the underlying causes as to why. The evidence suggests however, that employers may be more likely to refer groups with certain demographic characteristics into formal procedures or that these groups may be more likely to work in roles which are prone to a greater number of complaints.
The research found that in some of our cases the decisions made by case examiners were not as a fully reasoned as they could be, although the decisions themselves appeared appropriate for the circumstances of the case. Further the distinction between concluding a case and concluding a case with advice was also found to be unclear in a small number of cases.
Why did we commission this research?
This review is part of an ongoing programme of work to make sure our fitness to practise procedures are fair, consistent and robust.
What did the research involve?
A mixed-method approach was adopted which comprised an evaluation of our criteria and guidance, analysis of sample case files, and analysis of how we present allegations of impairment to doctors at the end of our investigations. Interviews with a small number of fitness to practise staff examining the decision-making processes and a literature review were also conducted.