Professional Conduct Committee
A Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) is an investigatory body appointed by the Council. Its purpose is to investigate matters and concerns referred to it by the Council about a registered doctor. Although a PCC is appointed by the Council, it is separate from the Council, and regulates its own procedures.
What is a Professional Conduct Committee?
A Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) is appointed by the Council and is separate to the Council. If the Council considers that the information received raises questions about the conduct or the safety of a doctor's practice, it may refer these to a PCC.
The purpose of a PCC is to investigate the concerns referred to it from the Council. These concerns may have come from a member of the public, a colleague, a health practitioner, the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC), or a notification of conviction from a court.
Who sits on a Professional Conduct Committee?
Under the HPCAA a PCC must have three members: two doctors and one non-doctor. One of the members is appointed as the facilitator, and that person arranges meetings and interviews, and ensures that the PCC’s processes are fair and conducted in a timely manner.
Whenever possible, the Medical Council will appoint a PCC member who is in the same scope of practice as the doctor who is the subject of the PCC’s investigation. Before the investigation begins, the doctor may request a change of PCC members. The notifier (if there is one) also has that option.
What information can the PCC receive?
A PCC may receive any statement, document, information, or matter, that in its opinion may help with its investigation, whether or not that statement, document, information, or matter would be admissible in a court of law.
A PCC may also require any person to produce specific information should certain conditions be met.
A PCC may hear oral evidence and receive written statements from people involved in the matter under investigation. However, there is no obligation on anyone to meet with a PCC. Any person who does meet with a PCC may bring a support person with them, and this is especially encouraged if the matter under investigation involves issues such as sexual impropriety.
The Meeting with a Professional Conduct Committee information sheet provides further information.
What happens at the end of the investigation?
At the end of its investigation a PCC will make recommendation(s) and/or determination(s) in accordance with section 80 of the HPCAA. The Medical Council can consider PCC recommendations when deciding on what action to take, but cannot review or change determinations made by a PCC.
Recommendations available to a PCC are that the Medical Council:
- review the competence of the doctor to practise medicine
- review the fitness of the doctor to practise medicine
- review the doctor’s scope of practice
- refer the subject matter of the investigation to the Police
- counsel the doctor.
Determinations available to a PCC are:
- no further steps be taken in relation to the subject matter of the investigation
- a charge be brought against the doctor before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal
- the notification be subject to conciliation.
How long will a PCC investigation take?
A PCC will try to complete any investigation as quickly as possible, and ideally within 8 to 12 months from when the PCC is established. However, the timeframe will depend on the complexity of the PCC investigation and may be delayed by processes outside the PCC’s control.