What to tell us when you apply guide

FtP question 5: Investigations and refusals by organisations

This page will help you answer fitness to practise question 5 on your application.

Has an organisation investigated concerns about your fitness to practise, or refused to register you or give you a licence to practise?

The organisation could be a regulator, an exam board, a coroner, a licensing organisation or a similar organisation. This includes non-medical organisations.

What you need to tell us

You need to tell us if any organisation investigated concerns about your fitness to practise or refused to register or licence you as a doctor or other healthcare professional.

What do we mean by ‘organisation’?

We mean a regulatory body, examination testing body or a professional membership organisation. Examples can include:

  • coroner’s courts or sheriff courts
  • exam boards including IELTS and OET
  • health or social care regulators in the UK or overseas
  • licensing organisations
  • The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman or the Public Services Ombudsman in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • The Financial Conduct Authority
  • The Health and Safety Executive
  • Parliamentary Commissions
  • postgraduate membership organisations including Royal Colleges
  • public inquiries
  • Royal Commissions
  • tribunals in a public domain
  • verification organisations including Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and Dataflow.

What do we mean by ‘investigate concerns about your fitness to practise’?

An organisation could investigate concerns about your fitness to practise if something you do in your private life or while working as a doctor, taking exams or studying could pose a risk to patient safety or reduce the trust that patients and the public have in doctors.

Examples can include:

  • making serious or repeated mistakes when treating patients
  • fraud or dishonest behaviour, including cheating, plagiarism, falsifying documents (including online documents)
  • withholding examination results
  • abusing your position as a doctor, for example an improper sexual relationship with a patient
  • discriminating against patients, colleagues and others.

If any concern about your fitness to practise led to an investigation you need to tell us when you apply.

Investigations by organisations outside the UK

You need to tell us about any investigation into concerns about your fitness to practise by an organisation regardless of where the organisation is based.

Ongoing investigations

You need to tell us if an organisation is still investigating your fitness to practise.

What investigations to tell us about for specific organisations

Health and social care regulator investigations

Regulators usually start investigations to find out whether you are fit to work as a doctor, or other healthcare professional, following concerns being raised. When a regulator finishes an investigation, they may take action against you which can include:

  • refusing to grant you registration or a licence to practise
  • refusing to give you a certificate of good standing (because of concerns about your fitness to practise)
  • erasing or suspending your registration
  • you agreeing to undertakings on your registration
  • placing conditions on your registration
  • giving you a warning
  • cautioning or fining you
  • taking no action.

You need to tell us about all investigations regulators have made about you, even if the final decision was to take no action against you.

Exam boards, language testing and verification organisation investigations 

These organisations usually investigate to find out whether you have cheated in exams, plagiarised work or forged documents. When they finish an investigation, they may take action against you which can include:

  • restricting you from taking exams for a period of time or permanently
  • giving you a warning
  • reporting you to the police or authorities
  • other action.

You need to tell us about all investigations these organisations have made about you, even if they take no action against you.

Coroner’s courts, sheriff courts, or public inquiries

Coroners can:

  • investigate the circumstances surrounding a patient’s death
  • consider your actions if they relate to the circumstances surrounding a patient’s death
  • ask you to provide evidence to an inquest if you have treated a patient who has died.

Public inquiries can:

  • investigate issues of public concern and scrutinise past decisions and events
  • investigate the actions and decisions of organisations 
  • investigate your actions and decisions.

You need to tell us if your practice has been criticised:

  • by a coroner or the procurator fiscal in Scotland, during an inquest
  • during a public inquiry.

What to do if you need to tell us

If an organisation investigated your fitness to practise or took other action against you, answer yes to fitness to practise question 5 on your application and give the following details:

  • the name and purpose of the organisation which investigated the concerns
  • brief information about the circumstances or situation that led to the concerns being investigated
  • information about any action taken including any sanction
  • the name and contact details (address, email and phone number) of the individual contact at the organisation who investigated the concerns.

If the organisation was a health or social care regulator, you should also tell us:

  • your registration number or application reference number
  • if they refused to register you, or grant you a licence to practise provide brief details of the reasons why
  • brief information of any appeal you made and whether the outcome was successful or not
  • if they imposed a sanction on your registration, what the sanction was for and how long. What was the sanction and for how long? Please provide details if you appealed the sanction and whether the outcome was successful or not
  • if they refused to provide you with a certificate of good standing, (because of concerns about your fitness to practise).

If concerns were raised at an inquest or a public inquiry, you should also tell us:

  • any court reference number or the name of the public inquiry
  • whether you have already given written or oral evidence or not. And if you are due to provide evidence, what date this will be
  • contact details for the organisation conducting the proceedings (contact name, email and telephone number).

I’m still not sure whether I need to tell you about investigations or refusals by organisations. What should I do?

Use our What to tell us when you apply tool to help you decide whether to tell us about investigations and refusals by organisations. If you’ve used the tool and you’re still not sure get in touch with one of our advisers.