§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance has been issued on the appropriate time scale for initiating investigations of allegations of professional misconduct by health authorities and trusts. 
§ Mr. Malone
Guidance was issued in circular HC(90)9 to national health service employers in March 1990 on disciplinary procedures for hospital and community medical and dental staff.
This guidance recommended indicative time limits for dealing with cases of professional misconduct. This states that the time taken from the decision that there is a prima facie case to referral of the final report to the employer should not exceed 32 weeks.