The Complaints Process

Making a complaint about a midwife's professional practice is a serious matter. Persons who consider a midwife's conduct to be unsafe, unprofessional, or unethical have the right to make a formal complaint to the College and are advised to inform the College as soon as possible after the event occurs.  If a complaint is believed to be involving sexual abuse or misconduct please refer to the sexual misconduct information and the Client Protection documents.


CRITERIA FOR FILING A COMPLAINT
A complaint is a formal written allegation against a midwife made to the Complaints Director about the conduct, skill, judgment or fitness to practice as a midwife.

Matters that may form the basis of a complaint include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Lack of clinical skills or knowledge
  • Issues of client safety 
  • Failure to advocate on the behalf of a client
  • Unethical conduct
  • Lack of Professional decorum including interactions with clients and their families, peers, and/or colleagues
  • Breach of the Standards of Competency and Practice
  • Fitness to practice
  • sexual misconduct or abuse

There are matters the College has no authority to address. These include the following:

  • Complaints against a person who has never been a registered member of the College
  • Complaints against a person whose registration with the College has been cancelled or suspended for more than five years
  • Complaints that are not about the conduct, skill, judgment or fitness to practice as a midwife


WHO MAY FILE A COMPLAINT 

  • A complaint may be filed by:
    • A Client
    • A health professional
    • A Family member
    • Other support people
  • A midwife is obligated by the Standards of Professional Ethics to file a complaint if it is believed another midwife has engaged in unskilled practice or professional misconduct.

TIME FRAME FOR FILING A FORMAL COMPLAINT

  • In most circumstances there is no time limit invoked on filing a complaint. However, persons are advised to notify the College as soon as possible after the event occurred.
  • In the case where a midwife is no longer registered, the complaint must be received within 5 years of the cancellation or suspension of the midwife's registration.

SUBMITTING THE FORMAL COMPLAINT
  • The complaint must be made in writing and signed by the complainant
  • The complaint must include the following information: the name, address, postal code and telephone number of the complainant
  • If applicable and the complainant is not the client, the complaint must also include the following information about the client: the client’s name, address, postal code, telephone phone number, and an explanation of the complainant’s relationship to the client
  • The name(s) of the midwife or midwives complained about and the name(s) of any other midwives involved in the matter
  • A concise and clear description of the complaint about the midwife.
  • Provide the dates the incident(s) occurred
  • Give the name(s) of other caregivers from whom information should be obtained.
  • State the exact location(s) and address where the event(s) occurred
  • Send the formal complaint in writing to the Complaints Director, c/o CMA (Link):
  • Complaints may be submitted to the Complaints Director by mail, fax or scanned document attached to an e-mail. A complaint form is available on the College’s website to assist complainants in making a complaint
  • The College will not accept or acknowledge formal complaints that are sent in the body of an email


COMPLAINTS PROCESS

Once a complaint is received, the Complaints Director will review the information submitted to determine whether the College has jurisdiction over the matter.  The CMA might require some involvement from you depending on the seriousness of the matter. As part of the process, the investigator may interview you. In certain circumstances you may be asked to be a witness at a hearing.  

If the College has jurisdiction the Complaints Director may:
  •  Encourage the complainant and the investigated person to communicate with each other and resolve the complaint
  •  With consent of both parties, attempt to resolve the complaint
  •  Make a referral to an alternative complaint resolution / Practice Review
  •  Request an expert to assess and provide a written report
  •  Conduct, or appoint an investigator to conduct an investigation
  •  If satisfied that the complaint is trivial or vexatious may dismiss the complaint
  •  If satisfied that there is insufficient or no evidence of unprofessional conduct, may dismiss the complaint
  •  May make direction under section 118 of the Health Professions Act. 

Decision of the Complaints Director

All parties will be informed which decision has been made.
If the Complaints Director determines that the complaint should proceed to a hearing the matter is then referred to the Hearings Director. 
If the Complaints Director decides no further action is required, the complainant can request a review of the decision by the Hearing Director.

Hearing
A hearing will be commenced within 90 days after the date on which the matter is referred to the Hearing Director, and the Hearing Director will let you (and the midwife, or relevant parties) know of the hearing date, time and place at least 30 days before the hearing. After the hearing, the Hearing Tribunal will find that:
  • unprofessional conduct or
  • Complaint is unfounded

All parties will be notified of the decision in writing. If the decision is unprofessional conduct, the Hearing Tribunal will issue sanctions against the midwife.

Appealing a Tribunal Decision

The Complaints Director, on behalf of the CMA or the midwife being investigated has the right to appeal the decision of the Tribunal to the College of Midwives Council.
Appeals of a decision must be made within 30 days. 



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