FMHS Fitness to Practise Framework
Health professional students and staff members of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University.
Note - The fitness to practise regime applies to health professional students whether they are on campus, on placement or elsewhere.
To put in place a FMHS Code of Fitness to Practise at the University to deal effectively with concerns relating to the fitness to practise of health professional students, including establishing a governance structure and providing for membership, terms of reference and operating procedures for the FTP Board and the FTP Committee.
Fitness to practise is concerned primarily with patient and public safety. It also is concerned with upholding professional standards, including the relevant professional code of conduct, and contributing to the maintenance of the reputation of the profession and public confidence in the profession. Within FMHS, fitness to practise also involves education, which includes supporting and promoting positive behaviour and educating students in how to be fit to practise.
Situations giving rise to fitness to practise concerns may involve behavioural issues, and therefore they may overlap with disciplinary matters, but this is not always the case. Further, other issues involving an individual’s health may also give rise to concerns about their fitness to practise.
To enable a shared, multi-disciplinary, consistent, faculty-wide approach to fitness to practise, FMHS has established a fitness to practise framework led by a governance board that serves all schools, programmes, departments and disciplines (units) within FMHS. The framework also provides for a broad, practice-based committee from which members are drawn to sit on an FTP Committee panel, on an ad hoc basis, to deal with individual cases giving rise to fitness to practise concerns.
The structures and processes of this framework are designed to meet the need:
- for a shared process that can serve all units within the FMHS that are required to deal with fitness to practise issues
- for a fair and transparent process for those alleged to have been involved in an incident or to have a condition that compromises their fitness to interact with patients and with the public, at present or in the future
- for a process whereby:
- complaints and concerns are reviewed and dealt with within the unit (where that is appropriate)
- cases are escalated from the unit to the FTP Committee where a threshold of seriousness is met
- cases that do not warrant this escalation can be referred back to the unit for disposal
- for functional independence - to enable the FTP Committee to insulate units and staff members from involvement in decisions that have to be made where actual or perceived conflicts of interest or of loyalty among academic staff mean that this independence is necessary, and
- to reflect the academic stage of a student’s professional development and therefore the need to have an appropriate educational and remediation focus
Fitness to practise structure
The fitness to practise structure is as follows:
- FTP Board – for direction and oversight
- FTP Committee – comprised of broad discipline-based membership based on recommendations made by the units
- FTP Committee panel - comprising no fewer than five members of the FTP Committee convened on an ad hoc basis by the chair of the FTP Committee to investigate, decide and/or make recommendations to the Dean on a fitness to practise matter
The FTP Board is constituted as follows:
- the Dean, and
- the heads of FMHS schools, or their delegate
- the head of the medical programme
Note – The inclusion of the head of medical programme on the FTP Board enables the co-ordinated oversight of the medical programme which is taught in three schools.
- the head of Te Kupenga Hauora Māori (TKHM)
The chair of the FTP Board is the Dean.
The FTP Board will meet annually, or more frequently as required by the chair.
Terms of reference
The FTP Board will:
- appoint the chair of the FTP Committee, who must be either a legally qualified academic staff member in the Faculty of Law of a university, or an admitted barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand
Note 1 - The chair must have a legal qualification of some kind (whether obtained in New Zealand or overseas). It is not a requirement that the chair hold a practising certificate.
Note 2 – The chair may be from another University.
- appoint the members of the FTP Committee from time to time, as need be
- develop, as and when necessary, appropriate protocols and guidelines relating to the operation of the FTP Committee
- develop, review and revise, as required, the FTP Policy, the FTP Procedures and FTP Guidelines
- receive and consider minutes from the FTP Committee and reports relating to its operations, and
- ensure that the administrative needs of the FTP Committee are met
The FTP Committee comprises the following members appointed by the FTP Board:
- the chair (ex officio)
- one or more deputy chairs who must meet the same criteria as the chair
- Director of student affairs in each FMHS school
- a member from TKHM
- at least one member from each practice area within FMHS, and
may include specialist members, including lay members, a psychiatrist, a substance abuse specialist, and Māori and Pacific Peoples members
Role of the chair
The chair of the FTP Committee will:
- monitor the operations of the FTP Committee and produce minutes of meetings and reports, as required by the FTP Board
- consider cases referred to the chair of the FTP Committee and make decisions on the appropriate procedures to be followed, after such consultation as the chair thinks fit
- appoint individual members of the FTP Committee panel, as appropriate, to sit on a case by case basis, to investigate, decide and/or make recommendations to the Dean on a fitness to practise matter
- advise the Dean of the decision and/or recommendations of the FTP Committee panel regarding an individual student whose fitness to practise has been investigated
- appoint a deputy chair to act as chair of the FTP Committee panel, where the chair, for whatever reason, is unable to discharge the responsibilities of that role in relation to a particular fitness to practise matter, and
Note – such situations include the chair simply being unavailable or where the circumstances give rise to a conflict of interest.
- take such other action as may be necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the FTP Committee and the FTP Committee panel, as convened from time to time
No fewer than five members of the FTP Committee will be appointed by the chair of the FTP Committee to form the FTP Committee panel to investigate, decide and/or make recommendations to the Dean on a fitness to practise matter.
Note 1 - This permits more than five members to be appointed to the FTP Committee panel should the chair determine that this is appropriate in the circumstances.
Note 2 - A member of TKHM should usually be appointed to the FTP Committee panel when a FTP issue involves a MAPAS student.
To avoid doubt, the quorum for any meeting of the FTP Committee panel convened to hear a matter is five members.
The following definitions apply to this document:
Academic staff member refers to a member of the academic staff of the University, and includes an honorary teaching staff member and a teaching staff member whose services are engaged under a contract for service.
Dean refers to the Dean of FMHS.
Director of student affairs refers to the director of student affairs of the medical programme or equivalent role in an FMHS school.
Discipline includes the disciplines of medicine, nursing, optometry, audiology and pharmacy.
FMHS refers to the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University.
Note - For the purposes of the University's Policy Framework Policy, the FMHS Code of Fitness to Practise constitutes a standard.
FMHS schools refers to the following:
- School of Medical Sciences
- School of Medicine
- School of Nursing
- School of Optometry and Vision Science
- School of Pharmacy
- School of Population Health
FTP Board refers to the FMHS Fitness to Practice Board established under the FMHS Fitness to Practise Framework.
FTP Committee refers to the FMHS Fitness to Practice Committee established under the FMHS Fitness to Practise Framework.
FTP Committee panel means the FMHS Fitness to Practice Committee panel convened by the chair of the FTP Committee to sit on a case by case basis, to investigate, decide and/or make recommendations to the Dean on a fitness to practise matter.
FTP Policy means the FMHS Fitness to Practise Policy
FTP Procedures means the FMHS Fitness to Practise Procedures
Health profession means the practice of a profession in respect of which an authority is appointed under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, and includes the practice of dietetics, practice of medicine, practice of nursing, practice of optometry, practice of medical imaging and practice of pharmacy.
Health professional student refers to a student on a programme of study delivered by FMHS leading to a new registration status in a health profession (i.e. pre-registration student), and to a student undertaking continuing professional development or advanced studies relating to their health profession which does not lead to a new registration status.
MAPAS refers to the Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme.
Practice area refers to the practice of a health profession.
Staff member refers to an individual employed within FMHS whether on a full or part time basis, and includes an independent contractor.
Student means a health professional student.
TKHM refers to Te Kupenga Hauora Māori.
Unit refers to any organisational grouping within FMHS including schools, programmes, departments and disciplines.
University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.
Key relevant documents
Include the following:
- Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003
- FMHS Fitness to Practise Policy
- FMHS Fitness to Practise Procedures
- FMHS Fitness to Practise Guidelines
Document management and control
Owner: Deputy Dean FMHS
Content manager: As appointed by the Deputy Dean of FMHS
Approved by: Dean of FMHS
Date approved: 26 June 2019
Review date: 26 June 2022