Federation of Drug & Alcohol Practitioners
Substance Misuse Management in General Practice (SMMGP)

Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures

Related information: FDAP's code of practice for drug and alcohol professionals

[For other potentially relevant ethical frameworks see www.DrinkandDrugs.net]

 

Introduction

  1. A complaint must relate to an alleged breach of a specific clause or clauses of the relevant Code of Practice in force at the time the alleged breach occurred.
  2. A complaint may be brought by a) a member of the public seeking or using a service provided by the member concerned, b) a third party materially affected by the alleged breach, c) an individual member of FDAP.
  3. Complaints may only be brought against practitioners who are individual members of FDAP and/or FDAP Certified Drug & Alcohol Family Worker Professionals and/or FDAP Certified Drug & Alcohol Professionals and/or FDAP Accredited (NCAC) Drug & Alcohol Counsellors - and the person complained against must have fallen in to one or more of these categories at the time of the alleged breach. [NB - If a member being complained against resigns or allows their membership/certification to lapse after a complaint is made the complaint will still be dealt with as though the person remained a member].
  4. To be considered by FDAP a complaint must relate to an alleged breach taking place within the past three years.
  5. Where the service to which the complaint relates was provided by the member concerned on behalf of a service provider organisation which is affiliated to FDAP, FDAP will not consider a complaint until it has first been raised with and reviewed by the affiliate agency concerned.
  6. To be considered by FDAP, a complaint must be made in writing to the Chair of FDAP's Council of Management. All complaints must be signed by the complainant and contain the complainant’s home address.

Initial Consideration

  1. A complaint will be reviewed in the first instance by the Chair of FDAP's Council of Management.
  2. Any complaint not satisfying the requirements set out above will be rejected and will not be taken further.
  3. The complainant will be notified of the outcome of the initial consideration and will receive details of any further procedures to be followed.
  4. Where a complaint has been accepted for further consideration, the member complained against will be given a copy of the complaint, together with the complainant's name (but not their contact details), and will be notified of the procedures to be followed; and the Chair of FDAP’s Council of Management will appoint a panel to review the complaint (the Review Panel).
  5. The Review Panel will comprise three people, normally drawn from FDAP's Council of Management and Patrons (but excluding the Chair themselves). [Potential panel members have a duty to declare an interest which may affect their impartiality, or be perceived as doing so.]

Formal Review

  1. From the date of notification that Formal Review proceedings have been commenced, the member concerned shall have 28 days to respond to the complaint in writing (indicating whether or not they intend to contest the complaint). A copy of the member's response will be made available to the complainant.
  2. The Review Panel will hold a formal hearing to examine the complaint, decide whether it is proved or not, and if it is proved, determine what sanction (if any) should be imposed.
  3. Both the complainant and the member being complained against are normally required to attend the Review Panel hearing. They may each be accompanied by a representative who may support and/or speak on behalf of the party concerned, but not by any third party witnesses giving evidence in relation to the allegation.
  4. Both parties must submit in writing details of the evidence they wish the Panel to consider (including any statements from third party witnesses), at least 14 days before the Panel hearing is held. Copies of the written submissions provided by each party will be made available to the other parties involved in the complaint.
  5. New evidence, not covered in the parties' written submissions, will be accepted on the day of the hearing only with the agreement of the Review Panel.
  6. The hearing is an opportunity for the Review Panel to consider evidence presented and to seek clarification from either party of the written evidence they have provided - and the parties themselves may raise questions relating to the other's evidence through the Panel Chair.
  7. The Chair of FDAP's Council of Management will notify each party of the outcome of the review, including details of any sanctions imposed, within 28 days of the Review hearing.

Appeals

  1. The member complained against may appeal against the findings of the Review Panel on one or more of the following grounds:
    • the facts were found against the weight of evidence presented to the Review Panel;
    • the sanction/s imposed were disproportionate to the findings of the Review Panel and was/were unjust in all the circumstances;
    • there is evidence of a breach of procedure in dealing with the complaint which might reasonably have been expected to have had a material effect on the findings of the Review Panel;
    • there is evidence now available, which was not available at the time of the Review Panel hearing, which had it been available to the Review Panel might reasonably have been expected to have had a material effect on its findings.
  2. An appeal must be lodged, in writing, within 28 days of notification of the Review Panel's findings, detailing the grounds on which the appeal is being made.
  3. Where an appeal is lodged it will be reviewed in the first instance by an independent person appointed by the Chair of FDAP's Council of Management.
  4. Any appeal not satisfying the requirements set out above will be rejected and will not be taken further.
  5. The appellant will be informed of the outcome of this initial consideration and will receive details of any further procedures to be followed.
  6. Where an appeal has been accepted for further consideration, the original complainant will be given details of the appeal, and will be notified of the procedures to be followed; and the Chair of FDAP’s Council of Management will appoint a panel to review the complaint (the Appeal Panel).
  7. The Appeal Panel will comprise three people, normally drawn from FDAP's Council of Management and Patrons (but excluding the Chair themselves and anyone involved in the initial Review Panel). [Potential panel members have a duty to declare an interest which may affect their impartiality, or be perceived as doing so.]
  8. The procedures for reviewing appeals are the same as those for a Formal Review.  
  9. Appeal Panel decisions are final and are not open to further appeal.

Disciplinary sanctions

  1. Violation of the Federation’s Code of Practice may result in one or more of the following disciplinary actions:
    • Written caution
    • Reprimand
    • Denial of application for professional certification
    • Revocation of professional certification
    • Suspension or expulsion from FDAP
  2. Any denial of an application for or revocation of professional certification, as well as any suspension of membership, will be for a specified time period. Likewise, where a member is expelled from FDAP, a minimum time before any application to re-join the organisation would be considered will be specified.
  3. Any decision to expel or suspend someone from membership, or to revoke a person's professional certification, will be notified to any other professional associations of which the person concerned may be a member and to their employers (where applicable), and will be published on FDAP's website/s and in the organisation's newsletter.

[Effective from - 10.10.06]

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