GNC Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures
Addendum to The Handbook of Professional Conduct for Naturopaths
The following procedures will relate to all Members of the General Naturopathic Council (GNC) who have agreed to abide by the GNC’s Code of Ethics and Practice, as set out in the GNC Handbook.
The GNC accepts no responsibility for any costs incurred by complainants or practitioners involved in any dispute or complaint.
The Disciplinary Procedure will be followed in cases leading from:
1. A client complaining about a practitioner.
2. Any other parties who make allegations that a practitioner has infringed any part of the current GNC Code of Ethics and Practice.
3. The Registrar, who has been made aware of a possible infringement of the GNC Code of Ethics and Practice by a practitioner.
Practitioners must report any complaints or criminal convictions made against them immediately to the Registrar of the GNC and should also inform the insurance company covering their professional practice.
Definition of Terms
Practitioner: A current Member of the GNC.
Complaint: An alleged course of action taken by a practitioner which constitutes a breach of the GNC Code of Ethics and Practice in force at the time of the incident. For a complaint to be investigated the practitioner must currently be a Member of the GNC at the time for which the complaint has been received.
Registration Panel: (RP) This panel validates the competence and eligibility for applicants and members to join or remain in membership of the GNC. It comprises of the Registrar of the GNC, Director of the GNC and appropriate GNC Advisors.
Disciplinary Committee: (DC) The RP appoints this committee when necessary and shall include appropriate members of the GNC. The DC may take the following action, in considering a case or reaching a conclusion:
a) Issue a formal warning or suspension to the practitioner.
b) Require a practitioner to attend appropriate training courses.
c) Publish the results of a complaint.
d) Require the removal of the practitioner from the GNC Register.
e) The DC reserves the right to share information regarding the complaint with other appropriate training organisations.
Appeal Panel (AP): The RP appoints this panel when necessary and shall include appropriate members of the GNC who do not sit on either the RP or DC. This Panel has the power to overrule or endorse the ruling of the DC and their ruling is final.
1) A complaint must be put forward as follows:
a) It must be made in writing to the Registrar of the GNC and must be signed by the complainant and contain the complainant's home address. It should provide a summary of the complaint and the background to it, together with details of documentary evidence in support of the complaint. The complainant should also include copies of any correspondence and a statement confirming that their case notes held by the Practitioner concerned can be viewed by the RP and DC as necessary.
b) If the Registrar has been made aware that a practitioner has possibly incurred an infringement of the GNC Code of Ethics and Practice, the Registrar will then inform the RP in writing so that an investigation can be conducted.
2) Complaints can only be made against practitioners who are currently registered with the GNC. The GNC does not have jurisdiction with any other complementary practitioners.
3) The complaint must deal with a naturopathic discipline.
4) A complaint must refer to an alleged incident related to a clause or clauses of the relevant GNC Code of Ethics and Practice in force at the time the alleged incident occurred.
5) The complaint must relate to an incident or incidents taking place within the past three years.
6) Records of all complaints will be retained and may be accessed by the RP, DC and AP when handling future complaints.
Assessment by the Registration Panel
The Registration Panel will consider the complaint in the following order:
1. If there is legal action taking place the investigation will be put on hold until the courts have made a resolution.
2. The complaint needs to satisfy the complaint requirements otherwise it will be rejected and the complainant will be informed of the reasons.
3. If the complaint satisfies the complaint requirements the practitioner concerned will be informed in writing and will receive a copy of the complaint.
4. The RP will request the practitioner to submit their statement of the facts that led to the complaint.
5. If it is deemed necessary to inspect the case notes of the complainant then the RP will contact the complainant for permission to obtain copies of these from the practitioner concerned and then instruct the practitioner to submit copies on these notes to the PR.
6. The RP will review the complaint from the submitted information and will decide that if there is a complaint to answer, they will either attempt mediation or proceed with the complaint. If the RP finds that there are no grounds for a complaint it will then be rejected. Both the complainant and the practitioner will be written to with the findings.
7. If the RP decide to go forward with a formal investigation by DC then the complainant and practitioner are given one month's notice of the date and venue of the meeting. During this time they should both submit further evidence in writing to be received by DC no later than fourteen days before the date of the meeting.
Disciplinary Committee Meeting
1. The RP will appoint a Disciplinary Committee.
2. The DC will ensure that both parties have copies of the evidence submitted to the committee.
3. Both Parties are permitted to bring with them one representative who will either support them or speak on their behalf. No other parties will be allowed.
4. The DC will consider the complaint in light of the oral evidence presented on the day and the submitted written evidence. New evidence presented at the meeting will only be accepted at the discretion of the DC.
5. The DC will then contact the Complainant and Practitioner in writing within two weeks of the meeting with their findings, with notification of any action, if necessary, to be taken against the practitioner.
6. There is a right to appeal. Criteria for appeal are that new evidence has been produced or there are grounds to suggest that these disciplinary procedures have not been correctly implemented.
1. Appeals can be made to the RP within 28 days of the date of the letter from the DC reporting the findings of their meeting.
2. The Appeal must be made in writing to the RP and must contain all information relating to the new evidence supporting their appeal.
3. The RP will determine that the appeal conforms to the appeal criteria and if it does it will appoint the AP from appropriate GNC members who have not sat on the RP or DC regarding this complaint.
4. The AP then writes to the complainant and practitioner informing them of the time, date and venue of the Appeal. Both parties are also sent copies of the new evidence.
5. Both parties are permitted to bring with them one representative who will either support them or speak on their behalf. No other parties will be allowed.
6. The AP will consider the complaint in light of the oral evidence presented on the day regarding the new submitted written evidence.
7. The AP will then contact the Complainant and Practitioner within 28 days of the meeting with their finding, which will be final.