Fitness to Practise Overview
The health inquiry process is set out in the Health Professions Procedural Code, Schedule 2 of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.
The health inquiry process can be commenced in two ways:
- Information that comes to the attention of the College suggesting that a member may be incapacitated is brought to the attention of the Registrar of the College. If the Registrar believes the member may be incapacitated, the Registrar must, under section 57 of the Code, make inquiries he or she considers appropriate. The results of these inquiries must be reported to a Health Inquiry Panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC); or
- A panel of the ICRC investigating a complaint or considering a report under section 26 of the Code may refer a member to a Health Inquiry Panel under section 58 of the Code for Incapacity proceedings.
After conducting inquiries into a member’s health, which may include requiring the member to undergo an independent medical examination, the Health Inquiry Panel may refer a matter to the Fitness to Practise Committee for incapacity proceedings.
The Fitness to Practise Committee may hold a hearing to determine whether a member is incapacitated, and if so what terms, conditions or limitations should be placed on the member’s certificate of registration. If the member enrolls with an assistance program, such a hearing may not be held; rather, the member enters into an Agreement with the College, acknowledging that he or she is incapacitated and agrees to abide by a monitoring contract. If a member has been referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee regarding a possible incapacity, or if a member’s ability to practise has been restricted further to a finding of incapacity, that information is made available on the Public Register.
Unlike disciplinary proceedings, incapacity proceedings are not public. Incapacity proceedings are strictly confidential and are intended to help the member regain their health while ensuring the public is protected from unsafe practice. Incapacity proceedings determine suitable restrictions and conditions on the member’s certificate of registration that are designed to enable the member to return to practise in a way that supports his or her recovery while helping to detect and prevent possible relapses.
What does Incapacitated mean?
The Health Professions Procedural Code, Schedule 2 of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, defines the term “incapacitated” as meaning that a member is suffering from a physical or mental condition or disorder that makes it desirable in the interest of the public that the member’s certificate of registration be subject to terms, conditions or limitations, or that the member no longer be permitted to practise.
A member with a physical or mental disability that has been properly addressed may not necessarily meet the definition of incapacitated; for example, a person who uses a wheelchair in an accessible workplace, or a person who has a mental or mood disability who takes appropriate measures to manage their condition may not necessarily meet the definition.
Both the member ND and the College have the right to appeal a Fitness to Practise Committee decision to the Health Professions Appeal Review Board