Clifford Johnston & Co. has a team of NMC Lawyers with the knowledge and expertise to defend you in disciplinary investigations and proceedings before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Our NMC solicitors have gained an excellent reputation for defending nurses and midwives and are a leading firm in this field.
We are based in Stockport and Manchester, albeit we represent nurses and midwives across the UK. We can, therefore, assist you wherever you are based.
We understand the stress and anxiety that an NMC investigation may cause and the far-reaching consequences for your career and personal life.
The role of the NMC
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 has the authority to investigate allegations of impaired fitness to practice and bring formal proceedings when certain standards are not met.
Allegations & Investigations
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 to carry out investigations are limited to two kinds of allegation:
- 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
- determinations by other health organisations
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 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 a fitness to practise committee.
When a complaint is made, the NMC will initially screen the case. If they suspect that there are grounds for a case to be brought, the NMC investigations team who will prepare your case for the NMC Case Examiners.
The NMC will write to you explaining that they have received a referral regarding your fitness to practise. The NMC define fitness to practise as the ability for a nurse or midwife to remain on their register without restriction.
You will then be given 28 days to respond to the complaint, should you choose to do so.
Once all the relevant information has been gathered, the NMC will send you their investigation report and a regulatory concerns response form. You will be invited to complete the form and submit any further response within 28 days.
Once the response deadline is passed the Case Examiners will decide on how to proceed.
What the case examiner could decide
The first thing that the case examiner will decide is whether there is a case to answer.
If the Case examiners decide that there is no case to answer, they could:
- Give advice
- Issue a warning
- Take no further action
If they decide that there is a case to answer, they could:
- Recommend undertakings
- Refer the matter on 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.
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.
Fitness to Practise Committee (FPC)
The FPC 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 the nurse or midwife and give them 28 days to tell them if they would like their case to be dealt with at a hearing or a meeting.
Resolving cases by agreement
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.
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.
Our NMC solicitors 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 please complete our online enquiry form and one of our NMC fitness to practise lawyers will contact you as a matter of urgency.
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 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.