Due to the coronavirus pandemic, consultations, hearings, inquests and other meetings such as interviews that would normally take place in person have either been put on hold or those that could not wait have taken place remotely. It’s possible that some hearings will continue in this format for some time – it’s often more time efficient and avoids the need for people to travel long distances.
For students, this means some medical schools have been holding fitness to practise (FTP) hearings remotely. FTP hearings can be a worrying time for students and having to attend remotely can present additional challenges. If a concern arises about your fitness to practise and you find that you are subject to an investigation, it is important to contact us for advice as soon as possible.
Tips for attending remote hearings
Here are some tips on how to best prepare and present yourself if you have to attend a meeting, hearing or interview by remote means, such as video.
Before the session
- Prepare your documents in advance: you should be sent all the information you need prior to the hearing or meeting taking place. If there is any documentation that you need, ask for this to be emailed to a secure email address, preferably in an encrypted form. If possible, use an electronic device that is associated with your university, rather than a personal one. If you feel that anything is missing, let the panel or organiser know in plenty of time ahead of the hearing or meeting.
- Don’t be let down by the tech: make sure you have downloaded and tested the necessary app to allow you to join the meeting. On the day of the hearing or meeting, make sure your device is fully charged as well as having your charger handy and an electric socket close by. Test your headphones, microphone and video and make sure you’ve turned off distracting notifications on your mobile and laptop during the proceedings.
- Consider your location: double check you have a suitable background. If you are in a clinical location such an office or clinic room, make sure no confidential information is visible. If you are required to or prefer to stand, make sure your camera can accommodate this. Make sure the room you are in isn’t affected by external noise and, if necessary, close and lock the door to prevent interruptions.
- Be conscious of clothing: if in doubt, it’s best to dress smartly. You never know whether you may have to stand up or move, so consider your entire outfit, not just the top.
Behave as you would if you were there in person.
During the session
- Start early: log on early and make sure you have all the necessary documents with you. This will give you time to flag up any problems and ensure you are ready to start. If you know you are going to have to speak, and not just listen, have a glass of water close by. If the hearing is a lengthy one, there will be breaks. However, it’s worth making sure you have all you need before you start, including a bathroom break. If you need the bathroom during the hearing, ask.
- Mute your mic when you’re not speaking: during the hearing itself, unless you are speaking, mute your microphone to prevent feedback or unwanted noise. You may be asked to turn off your video if you are not speaking so make sure you know how to turn it off, and back on again when it is your turn to speak.
- Be aware of your body language: when your video is on, be aware of your posture and body language. Make sure you are central within the frame. Behave as you would if you were there in person.
- Follow the instructions given: like any hearing, when it is your turn to speak, follow the instructions you are given and make sure you have understood the question. If you’re not sure, ask. This will inevitably be necessary if there is any interference or if non-verbal cues are more difficult to interpret.
- Be as clear as possible: speak clearly while looking at the camera. Keep any documents or notes you need to rely on in front of you. You may find it helpful to mark any relevant pages for ease of reference. Let the panel know if you are having to refer to your notes so they understand why you may be looking away.
- Keeping in touch with your representative: if you have someone supporting or representing you they should be able to join the meeting remotely as well. Discuss with them how you will keep in contact with each other during the meeting. For example, you could message each other on a different device, such as a mobile phone.
- Ending the session: at the end of the hearing, don’t leave until you are told to do so and follow any other instructions. If you are asked to take any other action once the hearing is over, make sure you do this as soon as possible.
If you’re called for a FTP hearing by your university, seek our advice early. We can guide you through the process from the start and help you best represent yourself.