Frequently Asked Questions for Health Practitioners or Students
Will I get a copy of the notification (complaint)?
Once the Psychology Council of New South Wales and the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) have decided the notification (complaint) needs to be examined, a copy of the substance of the notification (complaint) will be sent to you to seek a response. In some instances, where the notification would put at risk the health or safety of a person, or would prejudice an investigation or place a person at risk of intimidation or harassment, the Council may decide not to notify you of the notification (complaint). In some circumstances you will not be informed of the details of the person making the notification (complaint), this could be due to privacy and confidentiality issues.
If the Council deems that the notification (complaint) is unsubstantiated, the person making the notification (complaint) will be notified that no action will be taken. You will not be notified of this course of action.
Will my response be provided to the complainant?
You can request for your response to be used for assessment purposes only. This means that a copy would not be released to the complainant without your prior consent. If you do not want your response to be provided to the complainant, then please indicate as such in your response.
How long will it take to assess a notification (complaint) and determine the course of action to be taken?
You will be notified of a lodgement of a notification (complaint) as promptly as possible upon the Council or the HCCC receiving the notification (complaint). Depending on the nature of the notification (complaint) you will be updated on the process from either the HCCC or the Council.
Will I be called to a meeting or a hearing to present my side of the matter?
Initially all communication will be in writing. You may be called in at some stage to discuss the matter with the Council. If the process proceeds to an Inquiry you will be required to attend.
What are the steps that might apply in the management of the notification (complaint)?
There are several steps involved in the management of a notification (complaint), these include:
- Opportunity to respond
- Further investigation
- Peer Review Report
- Opportunity to comment on Peer Review Report
- Referral to an Impairment Panel, Professional Standards Committee (PSC), Tribunal, or a Performance Assessment Review Panel.
How can I obtain information on the progress of the matter?
From the Council or the HCCC.
How long does the overall process take?
This varies depending on the complexities of the issue and the extended facts such as whether criminal charges arise from the incident. Anywhere from two months to a number of years.
What are the possible outcomes that might apply?
- Complete dismissal
- Psychologists or psychiatrists report
- Medical examination
- Tribunal, Performance Assessment Review Panel
- Impairment Panel.
Will I be advised of the outcome?
Yes you will be notified of the outcome of the notification (complaint) in writing.
Will my employer be notified about the notification (complaint)? If so when does this occur?
In circumstances where the complaint results in the Council imposing conditions on your registration (including where existing conditions are removed or amended), the Council has an obligation under s176BA of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to notify your employer/accreditor of the conditions.
The Council will also notify your employer/accreditor if your registration status changes (cancellation, suspension or imposition of conditions) following a Performance Review Panel, a Professional Standards Committee, or a Tribunal as these matters are recorded on the publicly available national register.
Will APHRA be notified? If so, what information is provided to AHPRA and what information is added to the public register?
Yes, when a decision is handed down by the Council or Tribunal, AHPRA will be notified of the outcome.
Where can I seek support?
Any health practitioner may seek support in responding to notifications (complaints). The following may be able to provide assistance:
- the complaints manager of your facility or Area Health Service
- your professional indemnity insurer
- the Council Executive Officer
- a lawyer or legal representative
- another support person.
I am being investigated, what is going to happen?
The Council may ask you to provide information about the issues that are being investigated. It may also request supporting documentation such as your records of the matter and your résumé. At the end of the investigation if the matter is referred to a PSC or a Tribunal, the following recommendations may be made:
- dismiss the matter
- medical examination
- English test
- impose conditions on your practice
- impose a fine
- refer the matter to other government agencies (i.e. police) for investigation
- issue a public statement – Reasons for Decision (RFD)
- refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider taking legal action
- remove your name from the Register for a specific period of time (Tribunal only)
- make a prohibition order (Tribunal only)
- fix a time that you cannot reapply for registration (Tribunal only).
What are the possible outcomes of an investigation into a student practitioner:
- terminate the matter
- reprimand the student practitioner
- disqualification from the program of education.
What if I don’t agree with the outcome?
You can appeal against the decision of a Tribunal to the Supreme Court; the Council will advise you of the relevant section of the legislation applicable, and your legal representative will advise you on the appropriate course of action to take.