What is ‘Advice’ and what is its significance?
This article is part of our series about the Fitness to Practise investigations process.
When a fitness to practise investigation is closed at the filtering stage, without the need for referral to a full fitness to practise hearing, it is relatively common for the Registrant who has been subject to the investigation to be issued with advice. This is a formally expressed expectation of how the Registrant should act in the future. The precise status of that advice varies depending on the regulator. Advice given by the Case Examiners at the GMC has no status in statute and, as a matter of law, a GMC investigation closed with advice is a closure with “no further action”. In contrast, at other regulators, advice has a formal status in statute and is distinguished from closure with no further action. This is the position at the GDC and GPhC. In the case of those regulators, the fact that a Registrant has received advice will count as part of the individual’s fitness history and may be treated as an adverse outcome.
In practical terms the fact that a Registrant has received advice may become particularly important if that Registrant:
(1) is the subject of a complaint in the future;
(2) the complaint related to care provided after the advice was issued; and
(3) the complaint relates to a topic which had been the subject of the advice.
Thus, if a Registrant is given formal advice about their record keeping in 2020 and three years later is the subject of a complaint, relating to treatment provided after the advice was received, and their clinical records of that treatment are deficient, it will be said that they had been specifically on notice of the need to keep clear and accurate records and any deficiencies will be judged in light of that fact.
However, it is important to note that receiving advice does not restrict the professional’s registration, rather it “marks their card” and will be taken into account if they find themselves in the regulatory spotlight again in the future.
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.