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Improving the experience of witnesses in health and care professional practice proceedings

A group of people sit in an employment hearing, in an office room around a big square table.

In a world first, researchers, including Professor Louise Wallace (Co-Principal Investigator) from the WELS School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, have been funded to study the experience of witnesses who give evidence in professional conduct hearings about care provided by health and social care professionals.

The project: Witness to harm, holding to account: Improving patient, family and colleague witnesses’ experiences of Fitness to Practise (FtP) proceedings, will explore the experience of witnesses involved in FtP proceedings in six of the UK’s health and social care regulators, with a particular focus on cases where there are allegations of harm caused.

Alongside researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Oxford, University of Glasgow and The University of Edinburgh, the OU has been awarded just under £750,000 by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to carry out the project.

Professor Louise Wallace, the Co-Principal Investigator from the OU for the project said: 

“We want to find out what the public expect and what they experience when they give evidence about the care they received from a professional, particularly when it's alleged that care caused them lasting harm... Our study aims to create resources and guidance that enables people to be better supported when they engage with these proceedings.”

The study will explore and identify current best practice and potential improvements to how the public engages with FtP processes, and lead to workable recommendations and supportive resources for the public, professional bodies, employers and regulators.

Over the 30 months of the project from September 2021, the team will be working with a further seven UK regulators of health and social care professionals, (in addition to the six mentioned above), people who have been witnesses in these proceedings, and employers of health and social care practitioners, to produce videos and other support materials for use by the public, regulators, regulatory lawyers and professional bodies, health and social care educators and employers.

Find out more about the project in this article on the OU’s Research News website.

Visit the Witness to harm, holding to account project website here.

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