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Being a witness for Social Care Wales at a hearing

When someone raises a concern about a registered person, our fitness to practise team may investigate it. An investigation may lead to referring a registered person to a fitness to practise panel hearing to decide whether they can stay on the social care register and carry on working in social care in Wales.

We, or a registered person, may ask someone to attend a hearing as a ‘witness’.

A witness is someone who'll answer the panel’s questions about the allegation or concern to support either our, or the registered person’s evidence.

Being a witness at a hearing

Your role as a witness at a hearing is important, and we’ll only ask you to take part if we think your involvement is necessary.

Sometimes witnesses won’t need to attend a hearing, for example, if the registered person admits the allegations against them. In these cases, your witness statement may be given to a panel to read instead.

It’s important for the panel to hear witness evidence as it gives them the opportunity to ask questions to help them get a better understanding of the evidence and come to a decision.

If we ask you to attend a hearing as a witness, and speak to a panel, this is called ‘giving evidence.’

Attending a hearing on Zoom (a virtual hearing)

Hearings are held virtually on Zoom, so please check you can take part in a hearing on Zoom.

If you don’t have access to a device like an iPad, computer, or smartphone to take part on Zoom or you don’t know how to use Zoom, please let the fitness to practise officer know and they can help make arrangements for you to access Zoom.

You could use our equipment in our offices in Cardiff or St Asaph, so please let us know if you need to use our office.

To use Zoom you'll need:

  • a computer/ laptop/ surface/ iPad/ smart phone with a microphone and a camera, which has a reliable and strong internet connection
  • a quiet room with good lighting. The light should be coming from in front of you or above you. If the light is coming from behind you, it'll be difficult for people to see you
  • the free Zoom app or join via your web browser (such as safari, internet explorer or google chrome). If you'd like help with this, please let us know before the hearing.

Watch this video about how hearings work on Zoom

Before the hearing

  • the fitness to practise officer will send you an email invite with a link to join the hearing via Zoom
  • a case presenter from Blake Morgan solicitors, who represent us in a hearing, will send you your witness statement before the hearing. Please have it with you during the hearing and make sure you've read through it.

On the day of the hearing

  • please join the hearing via the link sent to you. The fitness to practise officer will have given you an approximate time to join and they will call or email you to let you know when we're ready for you to join
  • as timings in hearings are unpredictable, there could be some delays which may affect when it'll be your turn to speak to the panel, this means you may have to wait until the panel is ready for you. We’ll keep you updated on the day on whether there are any delays
  • please keep the day free as we can’t guarantee exactly what time you'll be called and when you’ll be finished.

Watch this video about who'll be at a hearing

During the hearing

  • the clerk will be the first person you see, and they’ll check we can see and hear you ok. As you’ll be speaking to the panel about important matters, they’ll need to be reassured that you’re telling the truth. So the clerk will ask you if you would like to make an affirmation (which is a promise to tell the truth) or swear an oath on a holy book of your choice (please have this to hand)
  • if you have any questions about the hearing or your role in the hearing as a witness, please ask the clerk
  • the clerk will then move you to a breakout room (virtual room) where you’ll join the case presenter and fitness to practise officer who took your statement
  • They'll talk through your statement and answer any questions you have
  • when you’re ready to speak to the panel, the clerk will close the breakout room and you’ll join the panel in the hearing room. Please make sure your video is still on and your mic is off at this point.

Giving your evidence - step by step

  • when you’re in the hearing room you’ll see the Chair, 3 panel members, clerk, registered person (if they’re present), case presenter (who you'll already have met), fitness to practise officer (who you'll already have met), legal advisor and any observers (this could include members of the press). Watch this video for more information about who's at a hearing
  • the Chair will welcome you and thank you for attending. Then they’ll introduce the panel members and others to you, so you know who you’re looking at and talking to
  • the Chair will explain what the process will be and remind you that you can ask for a break if you need one
  • the legal advisor will ask you how you’d like to give your evidence, by taking an oath or making an affirmation. If you’ve decided to take the oath, they’ll check you have your holy book of choice with you. Then they’ll ask you to repeat after the wording for the affirmation or oath.
  • the presenter will ask you questions about your statement. Take your time when answering. The questions may relate to an incident that happened quite a long time ago, so don’t worry if you can’t remember everything, explain this in your answer
  • if there’s anything you don’t understand, ask the presenter to explain what they mean
  • the Chair may suggest a break at this point, before the registered person begins their questions if they’re present and have any
  • If the registered person isn’t there, the legal adviser may ask you questions that they think the registered person would likely have asked
  • the registered person may ask you some questions that aren’t in your statement, the legal advisor will stop them if they think a question is unfair or inappropriate
  • the panel and legal adviser may take a break to think about what questions they want to ask you
  • if a break is taken at this point, you’ll be moved to your own private room for the break. You can use this time to walk away from the screen. It’s important to remember you’re still under oath so you must not discuss any of the questions you’ve been asked with anyone
  • the clerk will keep you updated about how long the panel are likely to be. You can use the ‘ask for help’ button in Zoom if you want to speak with the clerk
  • You’ll be moved back to the main hearing room when the panel is ready to start again, and the panel and legal advisor may ask you questions. The questions might not only be about your statement, the legal advisor will make sure they only ask questions that will help the panel understand the evidence and come to a decision
  • The presenter is then given the opportunity to ask you anything else. When the presenter has finished, the Chair will let you know your evidence has finished and you’re able to leave. You can either stay and observe the rest of the hearing (you'll have to keep your mic and video off) or you can log out and leave Zoom.

Giving evidence in a way that's comfortable to you - reasonable arrangements

We want to make our fitness to practise process as accessible as possible. If you have any additional needs, please let the fitness to practise officer know as soon as possible.

If you think you’ll need some arrangements in a hearing to help you give evidence, please talk to the fitness to practise officer before the hearing.

For example, you may need translators to help you give evidence in your preferred language, you may need regular breaks, or you’d like to receive letters rather than emails.

Claiming loss of earnings

If your employer won't give you time off with pay to attend the hearing, you can make a claim for ‘loss of earnings’. Please let your fitness to practise officer know before the hearing and they can help you with a claim.

Additional support

First published: 18 July 2023
Last updated: 26 July 2023
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