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The responsible officer regulations require each designated body to appoint one responsible officer (except for NHS England which may appoint several). However, where a conflict of interest or appearance of bias exists between the responsible officer and one of the doctors, an alternative responsible officer must be nominated or appointed for that doctor.
In deciding whether to appoint an alternative responsible officer, designated bodies will need to demonstrate that:
- they have complied with the responsible officer regulations
- the doctor has been treated fairly and equitably.
The RST Briefing: Responsible Officer Conflict of Interest or Appearance of Bias (RST, 2014) sets out the process to be used by all designated bodies in England to provide the designated body with confidence that decisions are consistent, fair and equitable.
There is also a separate application form that can be used as a template for a doctor to use when requesting a change of responsible officer.