CIEH plans launch of new fitness to practise regime

23 July 2018, Andrew Harvey, Governance Adviser

Two people inspecting documents

October sees introduction of a new approach to professional regulation

As part of its wide-ranging updating of governance, CIEH has reviewed its Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Process, the latter to be replaced by a ‘fitness to practise’ approach. 

The vast majority of environmental health practitioners are conscientious professionals, working hard to protect the public.  Often our members have to make decisions in difficult, unclear and challenging situations. 

However, just like in every other profession, it is important that – when it occurs - poor practice is dealt with, to protect the public and preserve the reputation of the profession.  Our Charter puts the onus on CIEH to maintain and uphold this reputation.

Earlier this year, the CIEH Board (assisted by its Membership and the Profession Advisory Group) updated our Code of Ethics.  The four ethical principles remain the same: integrity, competence, responsibility and respect. The revised Code of Ethics will be published later this year.

At the same time, it reviewed its disciplinary arrangements.  Consistent with contemporary good practice, these have been redeveloped to put in place a Fitness to Practise Panel - as is common in many other sectors.

In making this change, the Board wanted to emphasise that ‘discipline’ (in an employment setting) is a matter for employers.  CIEH’s role is in upholding proper standards and in ensuring the public is protected.  That means that the fitness to practise process will, rarely, be the forum in which to deal with a complaint from a member of the public.  CIEH’s previous disciplinary process had been used in that way; such matters are clearly for the employers of our members, unless the rules in our Code of Ethics are alleged to have been broken.

Community meeting background

"The purpose of these rules is to protect the public, declare and uphold proper professional standards and to ensure public confidence in the profession and in CIEH."

Complaints that are referred to a panel for determination will be the more serious in nature.  This is reflected in the fact that panels will have a range of sanctions available to them, up to and including removal from membership.

Panels, who will hear evidence in public in most cases, will consist of three members, with a lay majority.  One of the panel will serve as Chair and panels will have access to independent legal advice.

The new arrangements will help members who are subject to a complaint in setting out, very clearly, the process to be followed. 

They will reassure the public, by introducing a lay majority to the panels which consider complaints.  To ensure that panels take their decisions understanding the context in which our members work, every panel will have a Chartered EHP as a member as well.

Recruitment for panel members for the new process (which will be introduced on 1 October 2018) is underway and details can be found here.