NHS Trusts – Breaches of Discipline and Misconduct Allegations
When an alleged breach of discipline occurs it will be necessary for the Line-Manager of the person who is alleged to have committed the misconduct to establish whether a potential case exists by carrying out a preliminary investigation.
If the allegations are found likely to be substantiated the Line-Manager will:
- Alert the service manager (or most senior person on duty) to the allegations and ask them to consider whether temporary redeployment or suspension is appropriate (suspension is a last resort);
- Consider whether a formal investigation is necessary. In most cases a formal investigation will be necessary but may not be in cases where the facts are clearly not in dispute (for example, a timekeeping issue);
- Draft the allegation to be investigated;
- Liaise with the HR department in order to appoint investigating officers;
- Issue a written notice of the allegation(s) informing the employee that there seems to be sufficient evidence to warrant a formal investigation.
If the Disciplinary Officer decides that there is potential substance to the allegation(s) and that they are serious enough to merit disciplinary action, a formal disciplinary meeting must be arranged as soon as practicable by the Disciplinary Officer.
Representation in Professional Discipline Law
The employee has the right to be represented in all formal hearings. The representative can be a member of the Trade Union, a solicitor or a barrister. Representation by a solicitor or a barrister will be subject to a cost.
- Formal Stage – Disciplinary Hearing
- Purpose of the hearing
- Notice period of a Disciplinary Hearing
- Disciplinary panel
- Mitigating Circumstances
- Notification of Outcome
Allegations do not have to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt as in a court of law, but should be based on a balance of probabilities.
Possible Outcomes During Healthcare Professional Discipline
- Allegation is unsubstantiated
- Minor misconduct is substantiated
- Serious misconduct is substantiated
- Gross misconduct is substantiated
- First written warning
- Final written warning
- Summary Dismissal (This is immediate dismissal without payment)
- Referral to professional body/disclosure and barring service.
Right of Appeal
Staff have the right to appeal against any formal disciplinary action taken against them and will be informed of this at the disciplinary hearing. The time limit for lodging any appeal is 15 working days from the date of the decision made following the disciplinary meeting.
Grounds of Appeal
The appeal should be based on one or more of the following grounds:
- The disciplinary policy and procedures were not followed and was not taken into consideration by the panel;
- Non-compliance with statutory policy, procedure and legal rights;
- Acts of discrimination, bullying and harassment in the hearing;
- Disciplinary panel outcome decisions.
If an Appeal Hearing is required then the Trust will endeavour to have an appeal heard with 30 working days of receiving the written appeal.The decision of the Appeal Hearing will be final.
Allegations of misconduct or breach of discipline can be subject to serious sanctions being enforced. Representation by a legal professional can be arranged during the early stages.
Healthcare Professional Discipline Experience at St Pauls
Several of our barristers, including counsel, members and pupils, practise in the area of healthcare regulation and professional discipline. Get in touch to find out more how we may be able to assist.
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Head of Chambers
Simon Bickler QC
Nigel Sangster QC
Richard Barraclough QC
Simon Myerson QC
Bryan Cox QC
Jane Bewsey QC
Sam Green QC
John Harrison QC
Andrew Haslam QC