Psychotherapy Bill [H.L.] - continued        House of Lords

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Professional conduct and fitness to practise
The Code of Practice.     19. - (1) The General Council shall prepare and from time to time publish a Code of Practice-
 
 
    (a) laying down standards of conduct and practice expected of registered psychotherapists; and
 
    (b) giving advice in relation to the practice of psychotherapy.
      (2) It shall be the duty of the General Council to keep the Code under review and to vary its provisions whenever the Council considers it appropriate to do so.
 
      (3) Before issuing the Code or varying it, the General Council shall consult such representatives of practising psychotherapists as it considers appropriate.
 
      (4) Where any person is alleged to have failed to comply with any provision of the Code, that failure-
 
 
    (a) shall not be taken, of itself, to constitute unacceptable professional conduct on his part; but
 
    (b) shall be taken into account in any proceedings against him under this Act.
      (5) Any person who asks the General Council for a copy of the Code shall be entitled to have one on payment of such reasonable fee as the Council may determine.
 
      (6) Subsection (5) is not to be taken as preventing the General Council from providing copies of the Code free of charge whenever it considers it appropriate.
 
Professional conduct and fitness to practise.     20. - (1) This section applies where any allegation is made against a Professional registered psychotherapist to the effect that-
 
 
    (a) he has been guilty of conduct which falls short of the standard required of a registered psychotherapist;
 
    (b) he has been guilty of professional incompetence;
 
    (c) he has been convicted (at any time) in the United Kingdom of a criminal offence; or
 
    (d) his ability to practise as a psychotherapist is seriously impaired because of his physical or mental condition.
      (2) In this Act conduct which falls short of the standard required of a registered psychotherapist is referred to as "unacceptable professional conduct".
 
      (3) Where an allegation is made to the General Council, or to any of its committees (other than the Investigating Committee), it shall be the duty of the Council or committee to refer the allegation to the Investigating Committee.
 
      (4) The General Council may make rules requiring any allegation which is made or referred to the Investigating Committee to be referred for preliminary consideration to a person appointed by the Council in accordance with the rules.
 
      (5) Any rules made under subsection (4)-
 
 
    (a) may allow for the appointment of persons who are members of the General Council; but
 
    (b) may not allow for the appointment of the Registrar.
      (6) Any person to whom an allegation is referred by the Investigating Committee in accordance with rules made under subsection (4) shall-
 
 
    (a) consider the allegation with a view to establishing whether, in his opinion, power is given by this Act to deal with it if it proves to be well founded; and
 
    (b) if he considers that such power is given, give the Investigating Committee a report of the result of his consideration.
      (7) Where there are rules in force under subsection (4), the Investigating Committee shall investigate any allegation with respect to which it is given a report by a person appointed under the rules.
 
      (8) Where there are no such rules in force, the Investigating Committee shall investigate any allegation which is made or referred to it.
 
      (9) Where the Investigating Committee is required to investigate any allegation, it shall-
 
 
    (a) notify the registered psychotherapist concerned of the allegation and invite him to give it his observations before the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which notice of the allegation is sent to him;
 
    (b) take such steps as are reasonably practicable to obtain as much information as possible about the case; and
 
    (c) consider, in the light of the information which it has been able to obtain and any observations duly made to it by the registered psychotherapist concerned, whether in its opinion there is a case to answer.
      (10) The General Council may by rules make provision as to the procedure to be followed by the Investigating Committee in any investigation carried out by it under this section.
 
      (11) In the case of an allegation of a kind mentioned in subsection (1)(c), the Investigating Committee may conclude that there is no case to answer if it considers that the criminal offence in question has no material relevance to the fitness of the psychotherapist concerned to practise psychotherapy.
 
      (12) Where the Investigating Committee concludes that there is a case to answer, it shall-
 
 
    (a) notify both the psychotherapist concerned and the person making the allegation of its conclusion; and
 
    (b) refer the allegation, as formulated by the Investigating Committee-
 
      (i) to the Health Committee, in the case of an allegation of a kind mentioned in subsection (1)(d); or
 
      (ii) to the Professional Conduct Committee, in the case of an allegation of any other kind.
      (13) Where the Investigating Committee concludes that there is no case to answer, it shall notify both the psychotherapist concerned and the person making the allegation.
 
      (14) In this section "allegation" means an allegation of a kind mentioned in subsection (1).
 
Interim suspension powers of the Investigating Committee.     21. - (1) This section applies where, under section 20, the Investigating Committee is investigating an allegation against a registered psychotherapist.
 
      (2) If the Committee is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to protect members of the public, it may order the Registrar to suspend the psychotherapist's registration.
 
      (3) The order shall specify the period of the suspension, which shall not exceed two months beginning with the date on which the order is made.
 
      (4) The Committee shall not-
 
 
    (a) make an order in any case after it has referred the allegation in question to the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee; or
 
    (b) make more than one order in respect of the same allegation.
      (5) Before making an order, the Investigating Committee shall give the psychotherapist concerned an opportunity to appear before it and to argue his case against the making of the proposed order.
 
      (6) At any such hearing the psychotherapist shall be entitled to be legally represented.
 
Consideration of allegations by the Professional Conduct Committee.     22. - (1) Where an allegation has been referred to the Professional Conduct Committee under section 20 or by virtue of any rule made under section 26(2)(a), it shall be the duty of the Committee to consider the allegation.
 
      (2) If, having considered it, the Committee is satisfied that the allegation is well founded it shall proceed as follows.
 
      (3) If the allegation is of the kind mentioned in section 20(1)(c), the Committee may take no further action if it considers that the criminal offence in question has no material relevance to the fitness of the psychotherapist concerned to practise psychotherapy.
 
      (4) Otherwise, the Committee shall take one of the following steps-
 
 
    (a) admonish the psychotherapist;
 
    (b) make an order imposing conditions with which he must comply while practising as a psychotherapist (a "conditions of practice" order);
 
    (c) order the Registrar to suspend the psychotherapist's registration for such period as may be specified in the order (a "suspension order");
 
    (d) order the Registrar to remove the psychotherapist's name from the register.
      (5) A conditions of practice order must specify one or both of the following-
 
 
    (a) the period for which the order is to have effect;
 
    (b) a test of competence which must be taken by the psychotherapist.
      (6) A conditions of practice order shall cease to have effect-
 
 
    (a) if a period is specified in the order for the purposes of this subsection, when that period ends;
 
    (b) if no such period is specified but a test of competence is so specified, when the psychotherapist passes the test; or
 
    (c) if both a period and a test are so specified, when the period ends or when the psychotherapist concerned passes the test, whichever is the later to occur.
      (7) At any time while a conditions of practice order is in force under this section or by virtue of a recommendation under section 31(8)(c), the Committee may (whether or not of its own motion)-
 
 
    (a) extend, or further extend, the period for which the order has effect;
 
    (b) revoke or vary any of the conditions;
 
    (c) require the psychotherapist concerned to pass a test of competence specified by the Committee;
 
    (d) reduce the period for which the order has effect; or
 
    (e) revoke the order.
      (8) Where the period for which a conditions of practice order has effect is extended or reduced under subsection (7), or a test of competence is specified under that subsection, subsection (6) shall have effect as if-
 
 
    (a) the period specified in the conditions of practice order was the extended or reduced period; and
 
    (b) the test of competence was specified in that order.
      (9) At any time while a suspension order is in force with respect to a psychotherapist under this section or by virtue of a recommendation under section 31(8)(c), the Committee may (whether or not of its own motion)-
 
 
    (a) extend, or further extend, the period of suspension; and
 
    (b) make a conditions of practice order with which the psychotherapist must comply if he resumes the practice of psychotherapy after the end of his period of suspension.
      (10) The period specified in a conditions of practice order or in a suspension order under this section, and any extension of a specified period under subsection (7) or (9), shall not in each case exceed three years.
 
      (11) Before exercising its powers under subsection (4), (7) or (9), the Committee shall give the psychotherapist concerned an opportunity to appear before it and to argue his case.
 
      (12) At any such hearing the psychotherapist shall be entitled to be legally represented.
 
      (13) In exercising its powers under subsection (7) or (9), the Committee shall ensure that the conditions imposed on the psychotherapist concerned are, or the period of suspension imposed on him is, the minimum which it considers necessary for the protection of members of the public.
 
      (14) The Committee shall, before the end of the period of twelve months beginning with the commencement of this section, and at least once in every succeeding period of twelve months, publish a report setting out-
 
 
    (a) the names of those psychotherapists in respect of whom it has investigated allegations under this section and found the allegations to be well founded;
 
    (b) the nature of those allegations; and
 
    (c) the steps (if any) taken by, the Committee in respect of the psychotherapists so named.
      (15) Where the Committee has investigated any allegation against a psychotherapist under this section and has not been satisfied that the allegation was well founded, it shall include in its report for the year in question a statement of that fact if the psychotherapist so requests.
 
Consideration of allegations by the Health Committee.     23. - (1) Where an allegation has been referred to the Health Committee under section 20 or by virtue of any rule made under section 26(2)(a), it shall be the duty of the Committee to consider the allegation.
 
      (2) If, having considered it, the Committee is satisfied that the allegation is well founded, it shall-
 
 
    (a) make an order imposing conditions with which the psychotherapist concerned must comply while practising as a psychotherapist (a "conditions of practice order"); or
 
    (b) order the Registrar to suspend the psychotherapist's registration for such period as may be specified in the order (a "suspension order").
      (3) Any condition in a conditions of practice order under this section shall be imposed so as to have effect for a period specified in the order.
 
      (4) At any time while a conditions of practice order is in force under this section or under section 30 or by virtue of a recommendation under section 31(8)(c), the Committee may (whether or not of its own motion)-
 
 
    (a) extend, or further extend, the period for which the order has effect; or
 
    (b) make a suspension order with respect to the psychotherapist concerned.
      (5) At any time while a suspension order is in force with respect to a psychotherapist under this section or under section 30 or by virtue of a recommendation under section 31(8)(c), the Committee may, (whether or not of its own motion)-
 
 
    (a) extend, or further extend, the period of suspension;
 
    (b) replace the order with a conditions of practice order having effect for the remainder of the period of suspension; or
 
    (c) make a conditions of practice order with which the psychotherapist must comply if he resumes the practice of psychotherapy after the end of his period of suspension.
      (6) On the application of the psychotherapist with respect to whom a conditions of practice order or a suspension order is in force under this section or under section 30 or by virtue of a recommendation under section 31(8)(c), the Committee may-
 
 
    (a) revoke the order;
 
    (b) vary the order by reducing the period for which it has effect; or
 
    (c) in the case of a conditions of practice order, vary the order by removing or altering any of the conditions.
      (7) Where a psychotherapist has made an application under subsection (6) which has been refused ("the previous application"), the Committee shall not entertain a further such application unless it is made after the end of the period of twelve months beginning with the date on which the previous application was received by the Committee.
 
      (8) The period specified in a conditions of practice order or in a suspension order under this section, and any extension of a specified period under subsection (4) or (5), shall not in each case exceed three years.
 
      (9) Before exercising its powers under subsection (2), (4), (5) or (6), the Committee shall give the psychotherapist concerned an opportunity to appear before it and to argue his case.
 
      (10) At any such hearing the psychotherapist shall be entitled to be legally represented.
 
      (11) In exercising any of its powers under this section, the Committee shall ensure that any conditions imposed on the psychotherapist concerned are, or any period of suspension imposed on him is, the minimum which it considers necessary for the protection of members of the public.
 
Interim suspension powers of the Professional Conduct Committee and the Health Committee.     24. - (1) This section applies where-
 
 
    (a) an allegation against a registered psychotherapist has been referred under section 20, or by virtue of any rule made under section 26(2)(a), to the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee and the Committee has not reached a decision on the matter; or
 
    (b) the Professional Conduct Committee or the Health Committee reaches a relevant decision on any such allegation.
      (2) The Committee concerned may, if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to protect members of the public, order the Registrar to suspend the registration of the psychotherapist concerned.
 
      (3) An order under subsection (2) (an "interim suspension order") shall cease to have effect-
 
 
    (a) in a case falling within subsection (1)(a), when the Committee reaches a decision in respect of the allegation in question; and
 
    (b) in a case falling within subsection (1)(b)-
 
      (i) if there is no appeal against the decision, when the period for appealing expires; or
 
      (ii) if there is an appeal against the decision, when the appeal is withdrawn or otherwise disposed of.
      (4) Before making an interim suspension order, the Committee shall give the psychotherapist in question an opportunity to appear before it and to argue his case against the making of the proposed order.
 
      (5) At any such hearing the psychotherapist shall be entitled to be legally represented.
 
      (6) Where an interim suspension order has been made, the psychotherapist concerned may appeal against it to the court.
 
      (7) Any such appeal must be brought before the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the date on which the order appealed against is made.
 
      (8) On an appeal under subsection (6) the court may terminate the suspension.
 
      (9) On such an appeal the decision of the court shall be final.
 
      (10) In this section "relevant decision" means an order under section 22(4)(c) or (d), or an order under section 23(2)(b).
 
 
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Prepared 22 February 2001