When a performance matter is referred to the Council, one possible outcome is the practitioner may be required to undergo a Performance Assessment, which in some instances can lead to a Performance Review Panel (PRP). Of nearly 2000 complaints received by the Council related to performance in 2020-2021, 41 of these complaints underwent a Performance Review. Performance Review Panels are designed for a dual purpose: to remediate professional performance and to protect the public.
Panels are held with as little formality as possible and are not meant to feel like court proceedings. The Panel is usually comprised of one lay member and two medical practitioners, one of whom works in the same area of practice as the practitioner being reviewed.
If you receive notice of a PRP, it will specify the time and place of attendance, and may also specify documents you will need to bring along as supporting information. To prepare for a PRP, you can seek assistance from your medical indemnity insurer, reflect on the Performance Assessment report, and bring along documents to support any changes you have made to your practice that may have been outlined as needed in the report. You are also encouraged to rely on friends and family for support in what can feel like a confronting situation.
The hearing takes place over a full day, in which the panel members review evidence of the issues leading to the Panel. The practitioner has ample opportunity to present their perspective. The practitioner can have a support person by their side (such as a lawyer or other advisor), but the Panel must hear directly from the practitioner. The Panel then decides whether the doctor’s practice of medicine meets the standard reasonably expected of a medical practitioner with an equivalent level of training or experience.
If the Panel finds that a practitioner's professional performance is below the expected standard, it may place conditions on their registration to remediate the practitioner and to protect the public. These conditions are not punitive, and the Panel does not have the power to suspend or cancel a practitioner’s registration.