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Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Lawyers

NMC Investigation Solicitors

 

An NMC Investigation may cause far-reaching consequences for your career and personal life. We understand the stress and anxiety that an NMC Investigation may cause and we are here to help.

The NMC Lawyers at Clifford Johnston & Co have the knowledge and expertise to defend you in disciplinary investigations and proceedings before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Our NMC Investigation Solicitors have gained an excellent reputation for defending nurses and midwives and we are a leading practice in this field.

We are based in Stockport and Manchester, but as recognised NMC Defence Solicitors we represent nurses and midwives across the UK.  We can, therefore, assist you wherever you are based.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation with a qualified solicitor with the knowledge and skills to support you through this challenging process.

If you are a nurse or midwife who has been referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) it is important that you seek legal advice from experienced solicitors as soon as possible.

NMC Fitness to Practise Solicitors

The NMC is the professional regulator of nurses and midwives in the UK, and nursing associates in England. The NMC’s duty is to protect the public by only permitting nurses who are safe to practise to do so.

On the rare occasions that care goes wrong, or falls short of people’s expectations, the NMC can step in to investigate, and act when needed.

The NMC defines fitness to practise as, '..a nurse or midwife having the appropriate skills, knowledge, good health and good character to be able to perform their job safely and effectively.'

Anyone can raise a concern if they feel the safety of patients or the public is at risk. The NMC has a duty as a regulator to investigate the complaint and decide whether the nurse, midwife or nursing associate is fit to practise.

NMC Allegations and Investigations

The NMC has the authority to investigate allegations of 'impaired fitness to practice' and bring formal proceedings when certain standards are not met.

The NMC investigates serious concerns about a nurse or midwife's fitness to practise which could place patients at risk or negatively impact public confidence in the nursing and midwifery professions.

The NMC’s statutory powers are limited to:

● allegations of fraudulent or incorrect entry of an individual nurse or midwife to their register;
● allegations about the fitness to practise of nurses or midwives.

Allegations about fitness to practise can be based on:

● lack of competence;
● insufficient knowledge of English;
● criminal convictions and cautions;
● health;
● misconduct;
● determinations by other health organisations.

Fitness to Practise Referral to the NMC

Referrals to the NMC can have a profound impact and life-changing consequences on a nurse and midwife’s reputation and personal life. We will explain each stage of the process and advise you of your options and discuss defence strategy. Whatever the allegation, it is vital that you obtain expert legal advice from a specialist Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Solicitor.

It is vital that you seek specialist legal advice upon receipt of a referral from the NMC. Any response must be carefully considered to protect your interests. Your case may be disposed of by carefully drafted written submissions and without a referral to the fitness to practise committee.

How does the NMC Investigate Complaints?

When a complaint is made, the NMC will initially screen the case.

The process consists of four stages:

(i) Are the concerns serious enough to suggest that you may not be fit to practise?; (ii) Does the case meet the NMC formal requirements?; (iii) Will they be able to obtain credible evidence about the concerns?: and (iv) Can you show that you have already remedied any problems in your practice sufficiently so that the NMC can be confident that any risk to patients, along with risk to public trust in nurses, midwives and nursing associates or professional standards, has already been dealt with?

If your case passes the screening stage, the NMC will commence a formal investigation and prepare your case for the NMC Case Examiners.

Once the NMC complete their investigation, they will send you all the evidence that they have gathered, including evidence obtained during any criminal and/or internal investigation, as well as an investigation report.

You will then have 28 days to provide a response, before your case is sent for consideration by the Case Examiners.

NMC Case Examiners

The first thing that the case examiners will decide is whether there is a case to answer.

In deciding whether there is a case to answer, the case examiners will consider whether there is a realistic prospect that the Fitness to Practise Committee would decide, using the evidence they have gathered, that:

  • the incidents in your case did happen ie that they can be proved;
  • your fitness to practise is currently impaired.

The case examiners will first decide if there is enough evidence to make it a realistic possibility that the Fitness to Practise Committee would decide that the incidents, as alleged, did happen.

When making their decision, case examiners will carefully look at all the relevant information and evidence, along with your response should you decide to submit one.

When making their decision, the case examiners must ask themselves two questions:

  • Are you currently a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of the public, meaning your practice needs to be restricted in some way?
  • If not, is it a realistic possibility that the Fitness to Practise Committee would need to take restrictive action to promote public confidence or professional standards for nurses and midwives?

Case examiners will consider the NMC’s guidance on remediation and insight when deciding whether your fitness to practise is impaired. They will ask themselves the following:

  • will it be easy for you to remedy the concerns that led to your fitness to practise concerns?
  • how much insight have you shown?
  • what steps have you taken to remedy the failings?
  • what is the risk of the failings happening again?

If you accept the concerns, the case examiners will consider the quality of your reflection, the steps you have taken to try and remedy the concerns and what the evidence tells them about how likely you would be to repeat the conduct.

The NMC may not send your case to the Fitness to Practise Committee if, for example, you accept their concerns and they can be remedied.

If the Case examiners decide that there is no case to answer, they could:

  • Give you advice;
  • Issue you with a warning;
  • Take no further action.

If they decide that there is a case to answer, they could:

  • Recommend undertakings;
  • Refer the matter to their Fitness to Practice Committee.

NMC investigations can take time and you may find that you have restrictions placed upon your practice.

We understand that being referred to the NMC can be a daunting and overwhelming experience and the implications of this can be very serious. Please be assured that we are on your side and we will work tirelessly to defend you.

How long do NMC investigations take?

NMC investigations can take up to a year to complete. The investigator will be in touch with you at regular intervals - at least every four months - to keep you updated.

NMC Interim Orders

Interim orders suspend or restrict the nurse, midwife or nursing associate’s practice while their case is being investigated. They are generally made at the beginning of the case albeit they can be made at any time if new information becomes available.

The panel can impose the following orders:

  • interim suspension order for up to 18 months.
  • interim conditions of practice order for up to 18 months.

The panel can only impose an interim order if it finds it is necessary to protect the public, is otherwise in the public interest or in the registrant's interest and they must be reviewed every six months or if new evidence relevant to the order has become available.

An interim order can be imposed up to a maximum of 18 months. If the period of the interim order is coming to an end and the case is not yet concluded, the NMC can apply to the High Court for an extension of the interim order for up to 12 months at a time.

If you are facing an Interim Order Committee hearing, please call our specialist lawyers for nurses and midwives who will be happy to assist you.

NMC Fitness to Practise Committee (FTPC)

The FTPC holds meetings and hearings to consider fitness to practise matters. The committee is a three-person panel, one of whom is a nurse or a midwife.

Once the case examiners have sent a case to be dealt with by a committee, they will write to you and give you 28 days to tell them if they would like your case to be dealt with at a hearing or a meeting.

If your case proceeds to a hearing, the NMC will present their case and call their witnesses who can be cross examined on your behalf.  You or your lawyer will then present your case, call witnesses and/or make statements to the panel.

After hearing all the evidence, the panel must decide whether:

  • the NMC has proved the facts set out in the allegations against you; and
  • if so, whether your fitness to practise is currently impaired.

The panel will take into account the standards expected of a registered nurse, midwife or nursing associate ordinarily working at your level of practice.

Even if you have breached a standard set out in the NMC Code or failed to follow guidance in the past, it does not automatically mean that your fitness to practise is currently impaired.

If the facts are proved and your fitness is found to be impaired, the panel will go on to consider the appropriate sanction.

What Sanctions can the NMC impose?

The Fitness to Practise Committee will listen to submissions from you or on your behalf in relation to the appropriate sanction. They will consider aggravating and mitigating features. Mitigation often includes previous good performance, insight, remediation and length of time since the incident. Aggravating features often includes lack of insight and remediation.

The FTPC can impose the following sanctions:

  • a caution order for a period of 1 to 5 years – this is the least restrictive option that can applied if the FTPC has concluded that your fitness to practise is impaired;
  • a conditions of practice order for a period up to3 years – this would require you to comply with conditions;
  • a suspension order for a period no longer than 12 months – this would prohibit you from practising as a registered nurse or midwife for the duration of the order;
  • a striking off order – this would remove you from the register and prohibit you from working as a registered nurse or midwife.

What is a 'Consensual Panel Determination'?

Some cases may be dealt with by a consensual panel determination.

If a nurse or midwife wants to resolve their case by consent, they must accept the facts of the allegation and they must also accept that their fitness to practise is impaired. The parties will then agree an appropriate level of sanction with the nurse or midwife.

Can I Appeal an NMC Sanction?

In the case of a final substantive order, you can appeal to the High Court in England and Wales.

If you want to appeal against an outcome, you must do so within 28 days, unless the court decides that there are exceptional circumstances to justify extending the time.

The NMC Lawyers at Clifford Johnston & Co can help you appeal a decision made by the relevant Committee.

How can we help?

Our NMC Solicitors will handle your case sensitively and confidentially and robustly defend you. Throughout the NMC investigation, our experienced lawyers for nurses and midwives will provide you with specialist legal representation.

We provide clear and straight-forward advice to ensure that you have a full and comprehensive understanding of your situation. We provide a bespoke service tailored to the individual circumstances of your case. We will work closely with you, taking a proactive approach, to secure the best possible outcome.

We have a vast amount of experience in dealing with these types and will advise you at each stage of the investigation and subsequent proceedings. We will do everything we can to protect your career and livelihood:

  • Police station representation
  • Preparation for and representation at criminal trials
  • Preparation for and representation at Coroner’s inquests
  • Assisting with the preparation of regulatory concerns response forms
  • Advice on the NMC investigatory process
  • Considering witness statements and exhibits relied upon by the NMC
  • Preparing formal responses and submissions to the NMC
  • Drafting of written responses to the case examiners
  • Collating evidence in support of your defence
  • Advising you on the suitability of undertakings and warnings
  • Advice and representation at interim orders panel hearings
  • Advice and representation in relation to consensual panel determination
  • Representing you before the Fitness to Practise Committee
  • Providing advice and representation in respect of appeals to the High Court
  • Consensual Panel Determinations
  • Interim Orders Hearings
  • Advice and representation for hearings before the Health Committee

If you have been referred to the Nursing & Midwifery Council, it is vital that you seek specialist legal advice to protect your interests and safeguard your practise.

Why choose us?

We have the relevant expertise and experience to robustly defend you when your suitability to be a nurse or midwife is called into question.

Contact our NMC Lawyers today for a free consultation or complete our online enquiry form and one of our NMC fitness to practise lawyers will contact without delay

Notable NMC Cases

We advised many Midwives, Nurses and Health Care Trust Managers in relation to the police inquiry arising out of the death of JT whilst in the care of Barrow-in-Furness Hospital. The police inquiry arose out of the recommendations of the Coroner following an inquest. A subsequent inquiry was set up by the Secretary of State chaired by Dr Bill Kirkup. We represented a clinical supervisor and supervisor of midwives who faced significant criticism. We were subsequently instructed in respect of proceedings before the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

NMC v K – successfully represented a Supervisor of Midwives in relation to matters before Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

NMC v J – successfully represented a nurse who had been accused of fraud.

NMC v MC – successfully represented a nurse who had recently been convicted of fraud. The case was dismissed after legal arguments.

NMC v T – successfully represented a mental health nurse accused of sexual abuse. No further action was taken.

NMC v S –represented a former Head of Midwifery over a period of years. No further action was taken.

NMC v G –represented a former Risk Manager/Supervisor of Midwives from Guernsey.

NMC v KAS – successfully represented a senior nurse accused of serious failings in respect of a twin delivery where a baby sadly did. No action was taken.

NMC v KJ – currently representing a senior midwife who had been interviewed by the police in relation to an allegation of Gross Negligence Manslaughter arising from the sad death of a baby. This case has been ongoing for 6 years.

NMC v LH – currently representing a custody nurse involved in the care of a detainee who died whilst in police custody.

Get in Touch

Jared McNally is the Partner dealing with regulatory and professional discipline. He has a wealth of experience in this area and is instructed by clients across the UK.

He has a well-earned reputation for his detailed preparation, tactically astute advice and he offers a first class service to all his clients. He has excellent contacts amongst leading barristers in this field and is very well respected in the legal community.

With over 35 years of experience providing legal advice across a wide range of services and sectors, we are leading Regulatory Investigation Solicitors in Manchester and Stockport providing professional discipline and fitness to practice services from our offices in Heaton Moor and Burnage.

We are proud of the NMC Investigation Services that we provide and the positive difference we make for our clients. Our lawyers are experts in their fields.
Call today or complete the enquiry form and we will get back in touch with you quickly.

We will always respond promptly and we will be happy to help.

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