NCAS core office hours, including our advice service in England, are 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. Contact us.
Out of hours, request a call from us online.
Most requests come from the employer/contracting body of the practitioner about whom there are concerns. Contact is usually made by a senior member of staff, for example, the Medical Director, Director of HR or Head of Primary Care. However, we can receive initial contact from any representative of the employer/contracting body, providing they have the delegated authority to act on behalf of that body.
NCAS is keen to support Responsible Officers in their role. When handling concerns about doctors’ performance that may come to their attention, either through local processes or through appraisal, Responsible Officers are required to have regard to advice provided by NCAS.
Some requests for help come directly from practitioners. This may be because they are concerned about some aspect of their own practice, or perhaps because they wish to access advice about rebuilding their skills after a career break.
Occasionally, requests come from whistle-blowers and although NCAS is not set up primarily as a referral point for whistle-blowers, we have procedures in place to respond to concerns raised by them.
Although we are not able to take referrals directly from members of the public, if they contact us, we will advise them how to direct their concerns to the bodies best placed to help them.
If you are in any doubt about whether NCAS can help you or your organisation, please contact us to discuss. You are under no commitment to continue using us after the first contact; if we are not able to help we can usually put you in touch with someone who can.
NCAS deals with a wide variety of concerns about practice.
Figures 2007-13 indicate that a third of cases contain a range of concerns including behaviour and health - behaviour 58%, clinical 58% and health 21%. However concerns are rarely seen in isolation and are often present as a variety of concerns across domains of practice, health and behaviour.
We are keen that concerns about practice are identified and resolved early, to prevent harm to patients and increase the opportunity for the individual to return to safe practice. Our advice is therefore to contact us as early as possible and to provide us with as much information as you
can about the case. We can discuss a case without the need for you to identify the individual practitioner in the first instance.
The NCAS Adviser Team comprises senior staff from a variety of backgrounds in the clinical, managerial and legal professions. All of our advisers have considerable experience in handling concerns about professional practice. Advisers provide telephone or face-to-face advice and will confirm and supplement the advice given orally in a letter to you following the call. NCAS Advisers are now aligned regionally to Trusts and NHS England regions which allow you to have one contact point for all cases.
Advisers remain responsible for NCAS’ contribution to the case throughout our involvement.
If your Regional Adviser is not available at the time of your call, another NCAS Adviser will be available to provide initial advice and where applicable, hand the case over to the Regional Adviser.
We would strongly advise that a representative from the referring body talks with the practitioner about their concerns and the contact with NCAS except where this would compromise the investigation of the case (for example, where there is alleged fraud or criminal activity).
NCAS is a confidential service. By this we mean that we will not normally disclose the details of a case to a party other than the referred practitioner or their employer/contracting body, or even confirm that a case has been discussed with us.
There are, however, circumstances where we will disclose information, such as where it is in the overriding public interest to do so or where we are otherwise legally required to do so; in those circumstances the principles of the Data Protection Act will guide disclosure.
Further details about how NCAS uses and shares information can be found by reading our privacy notice. THE NHSLA has a legal services team which deals with enquiries about information sharing, and requests for information made under the Data Protection Act and/or the Freedom of Information Act. Contact NHS LA.
Government health departments issue advice, guidance or regulations to health services on when they should use services such as those provided by NCAS and on procedures such as the exclusion or suspension of practitioners. Information on any changes to the advice or regulations should be available from the relevant government website and you should check for the latest
- Organisation - a health care organisation employing or contracting with doctors, dentists
- Practitioner - the doctor, dentist or pharmacist from the groups within NCAS’ current remit.
- Concerns about practice - any aspects of a practitioner’s practice, performance, conduct
or behaviour which may:
- pose a threat to patient safety or public protection
- expose services to financial or other substantial risk
- undermine the reputation or efficiency of services in some significant way
- be outside acceptable professional or working practice guidelines and standards.
- Referring body- any employer, contracting or commissioning organisation which contacts NCAS for advice about a practitioner.