If you are a nurse or midwife, you will undoubtedly be familiar with the phrase “fitness to practise”. However, if a complaint is made against you to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), you are likely to fear that you are going to be prevented from working in your profession.
You may also worry about the press reporting the matter. These very valid concerns are why it is essential to seek good legal advice from solicitors experienced in NMC fitness to practise cases as soon as you are notified of a regulatory issue or complaint. As with many matters, the early addressing of an issue may lead to a speedy and satisfactory resolution.
The Fitness to Practise Committee: what is it and how does it work?
Made up from nurses, midwives and lay individuals, the NMC’s Fitness to Practise Committee considers allegations that a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practice may be impaired due to:
• Lack of competence;
• A caution or conviction for a criminal offence;
• Physical or mental health; or
• A finding of impaired fitness to practise by another health or social care regulator or licensing body.
Hearings are generally held in public. In certain circumstances, anonymous (or part-anonymous) hearings are held; your legal advisor will be able to advise if this might be appropriate for your case.
When determining fitness to practice, the Fitness to Practise Committee gauges the appropriate standard by reference to the standard expected of a registered nurse or midwife working at the same professional level. In other words, it is intended to be a peer-to-peer comparison.
What happens if the Committee decides my fitness to practise is impaired?
Even if it concludes that your fitness to practise is impaired, the Committee will not automatically conclude that you should be prevented from practicing your profession. Indeed, it may decide that it is not appropriate to take any further action. If it judges that action is appropriate, it has recourse to a range of sanctions.
1. A caution for a period of one to five years.
2. The imposition of conditions of practice for up to three years.
3. Suspension of registration for a maximum of one year.
4. Strike off from the register.
How can we help?
At CJ Law, we have many years’ experience of helping nurses and midwives negotiate a range of issues involving their regulatory body. Many of these have been high profile cases of national significance.
Whether you need representations making on your behalf, a defence prepared, liaisons with third parties, experts instructed, specialist advocacy or an initial discussion of your concerns, we would be pleased to assist. In the first instance, please contact Jared McNally by email or phone on 0161 975 1900.