General complaints and feedback
Our ambition for the ACP is to be a delivery-focused, innovative and user friendly professional association, alert to the needs of the public and our members. We can only become this by listening hard to what you have to tell us and by learning from our mistakes. If you have not received the service or response from us that you would like or expect, then do please tell us. We will take it seriously. We are keen to receive your views and feedback - positive and negative - on the services we offer.
Please write to the ACP Chair at the ACP Suite 7, 19-23 Wedmore Street, London N19 4RU. Or email your complaint or feedback to: email@example.com
Complaints about Administrative Decision making by the ACP
To download the procedure for investigating complaints about administrative decision-making by the ACP click here: ACP Administrative Complaints Procedure
Complaints against members of the ACP
Patients’ welfare and best interests are paramount and accordingly a Member of the Association of Child Psychotherapists must maintain the highest professional and ethical standards in the conduct of his/her profession. Patient care and the safety of the public is at the forefront of all our efforts with service users and it is important that any member of the public who has a concern about the way they have been treated in their professional dealings with a member of the ACP is clear about how to go about the process of making a complaint.
ACP Professional Standards Committee
The ACP has a Professional Standards Committee which has a sub group called the Ethical Practice Group. This group is composed of a number of very experienced child psychotherapists and a slightly larger number of lay members, who have often been experienced practitioners in other fields but which also includes someone with the experience of having a child in therapy. The Ethical Practice Group has a Lead who takes responsibility for the progression of complaints, as well as dealing with other ethical issues.
How to Complain
Anyone who wishes to discuss a concern or make a complaint should contact the Director of Professional Standards. This can be done through the ACP administrator on 020 7281 8479 or firstname.lastname@example.org who will then tell the member of the public the name of the Director of Professional Standards and ensure that the contact is made. Alternatively someone wishing to complain without a prior discussion can write in to the Director of Professional Standards at The Association of Child Psychotherapists Unit 7, 19-23 Wedmore Street, London, N19 4RU or email above.
The Association recognises that complaints may be made by colleagues, patients, families, employers or outside agencies, and that complaints may be expressed in the first instance either orally or in writing, or in terms which do not state expressly that they amount to a complaint. It also recognises that some vulnerable adults, disabled people or children may not be able to make a written complaint. It is for that reason that this part of the procedure makes provision for clarification of the intentions of potential complainants.
- Upon receipt of a complaint the Chair of the Ethics Committee will write to the person who is making a complaint asking him or her to confirm (if the complainant has not already done so) that s/he wishes to make a formal complaint and (if necessary) to confirm or clarify the full grounds of the complaint in writing . However , if this is not possible because of the vulnerability, disability or age of the complainant, the Chair of the Ethics Committee will contact the person wishing to complain to summarise their complaint on the telephone or in person,
- The Chair will then send the complainant a copy of the Code of Ethics adopted September 2014, a copy of Disciplinary procedures Adopted September 2014, and a proforma authorisation for disclosure of the complaint to the member The complainant will be asked to sign and return the proforma authorisation to the Chair of the Ethics Committee. If this is not returned, the complainant will play no further part in the process
- On completion of the above steps, the Chair of the Ethics Committee will give the complaint preliminary consideration. This usually involves consultation with the ACP legal advisers.
- If the Chair considers that information received indicates professional misconduct in breach of the Code of Conduct and Ethics may have occurred and that an investigation is called for to establish the facts, s/he will inform the complainant accordingly and will appoint at least two members of the Ethics Committee to investigate (the ‘Investigating Panel’). This panel will consist of one child psychotherapist member of the ethics committee and one or more lay member. The complainant will be informed of the names of the investigating panel.
- The Chair will then write to the member complained of to inform the member that the matter is to be investigated and will identify which provision/s of the Code of Ethics appear/s to have been breached. The member is given full information about the complaint. The Chair will endeavour to reach a decision on whether a complaint should be referred to an Investigating Panel as quickly as possible after receipt of the material on which the complaint is based. If no decision has been reached 28 days after receipt of the material, the Chair will write to the member concerned, explain that they are considering making a referral to an Investigating Panel, why a decision has yet to be made and when it is expected that a decision will be made. The Chair will keep the person who has made the complaint aware of the progress of this process.
- If after preliminary consideration the Chair considers that the complaint does not represent an allegation of misconduct that requires investigation or, after seeking clarification from the complainant or other source(s), the complaint remains unintelligible, the Chair may decide that no further action will be taken and, when there is an identified complainant, (s)he will inform the complainant in writing. The Chair will use his / her best endeavours to conclude this stage of the procedure (i.e. preliminary consideration) within 20 working days of receipt of the full written complaint.
- If the matter is investigated, It is often the case that the person making the complaint is asked to meet with the members of the Investigating Panel so that they can understand more fully the complaint that has been made and so that they can consider whether or not a breach of the ACP ‘s Code of Ethics may have taken place. The person making the complaint and the member complained of are interviewed separately. Notes are taken of all meetings of an Investigating Panel and all those who attend are asked to approve an agreed record of the meeting that they took part in. If there is a possibility that the member has breached the ACP’s Code of Ethics then the case is referred to a Disciplinary Hearing.
- If the members of the Investigating Panel decide that there is no case that requires a Disciplinary Hearing, the matter will be taken no further under this procedure. The members of the Investigating Panel will endeavour to reach their decision within 60 working days of their appointment. If it appears to the Investigating Panel that the timescale cannot be met, they will inform the Chair of the Ethics Committee in writing giving reasons that explain the need for an extension. If the Chair agrees to an extension, (s)he will give agreement in writing to the Investigating Panel and send appropriate letters of apology and explanation to the complainant and member complained against.
- If there is to be a Disciplinary Hearing the Investigating Panel prepare a preliminary bundle of the evidence for a Disciplinary Hearing. All this evidence is shared with the all parties in a transparent manner.
- At the Disciplinary Hearing the members of the Investigating Panel present the evidence that they have gathered during the investigating process to the Disciplinary Committee, composed of 3 members of the Ethics Committee who have not been previously involved with the case with a majority of lay members. It may not be necessary for person who made the complaint to attend that if the Investigating Panel think that they have sufficiently gathered the information about the complaint and are clear in what ways they think the member may have breached the ACP’s Code of Ethics. Hearings are held in private. The Investigating Panel, and the member complained about are entitled to be present throughout the hearing but witnesses including the complainant are only entitled to be present only while giving evidence. Witnesses, including the complainant, do not have the right to be represented. Witnesses may be accompanied with the agreement of the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee, if, for example, they need support. Any person accompanying a witness may do so on the understanding that (s)he is not a representative and may not participate in the proceedings and must before the start of the meeting undertake in writing to maintain confidentiality about the proceedings as a condition of attendance. Others may attend at the discretion of the Disciplinary Committee.
- The Chair of the Disciplinary Committee will send the written decision to the member, to the complainant and to the Chair of the Ethics Committee within 20 working days of the conclusion of the hearing. In the event it appears for good reason impracticable to send the decision within this time frame the Chair shall have power to extend it for up to 10 working days. All decisions by both Investigating panels and Disciplinary Committees are also shared with all parties so the process of decision making is made clear.
- If a member is found guilty of a breach of the code of ethics then the name of the member will be marked on the register of members indicating they are under sanction. If the member is suspended from practice or subject to conditions on their practice this will be recorded on a sanctions page on the website where the nature of the offence, the part of the code breached and the sanction will be described. If the member is expelled from the ACP this will be listed on a separate section of the register of members.
- In circumstances where another disciplinary, investigatory or legal process is taking place which, in the view of the Chair of the Ethics Committee is likely to make findings that will be relevant to decisions on the complaint against the member being considered under this procedure or makes it impractical to make progress within the timescales set out in this procedure; the Chair of the Ethics Committee can stay this procedure at any stage prior to a final Hearing of the Disciplinary Committee for a period of up to six months at a time. This delay can only be made after consulting with the complainant, the member under investigation and all other members of the ACP that have been involved in the investigation to date; and in all cases must be exercised consistently with the overarching objectives of the ACP’s Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Procedure particularly that of protecting patients and the public.
The ACP recognises that making a complaint can be difficult and upsetting. If a complainant would like support for themselves around the complaint that they are making, then the Registrar or the Chair of Ethics can arrange for further support from a pool of senior members or from themselves to guide the complainant through the process. The support offered would be impartial and quite separate from any investigation that follows the complaint. If you would like to be put in touch with someone, please contact the office (email@example.com).