The NMC’s Fitness to Practise Committee considers cases where a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is alleged to be impaired due to:
- Lack of competence;
- A criminal conviction/caution;
- A finding by another health or social care regulator or licensing body that their fitness to practise is impaired; or
- A barring decision by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS);
The NMC’s fitness to practise process
The NMC’s Fitness to Practise Committee will follow a three-stage process as follows:
- Fact-Finding – the Committee will hear evidence from both parties, before deciding whether the allegations have been proven or not. If the allegations are found to be proven, the Committee will then move to the second stage, to consider misconduct and impairment.
- Misconduct and Impairment – the Committee will consider if the factual allegations against the registrant which have been found proven amount to misconduct. If so, they will then move on to decide whether the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired. Essentially this involves the Committee deciding whether action needs to be taken against the registrant’s registration. If the Committee decides that the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, then they will move on to the third stage; sanctions.
- Sanctions – the Committee will refer to the NMC’s Indicative Sanction Guidance, which provides guidance to the Committee as to the appropriate sanction; although the Committee retains a wide discretion.
If sanctions are found to be the appropriate course of action, the Committee will choose one of the following:
- A caution (for a specified period between one and five years);
- Conditions (for a specified period up to three years);
- Suspension of the nurse or midwife’s registration (for up to one year);
- Strike off the nurse or midwife from the register.
Our fitness to practise defence lawyers have a proven track record for providing robust representation for nurses and midwives before the NMC’s Fitness to Practise Committee.
Consensual panel determinations
The 3-step process outlined above can be avoided if a provisional sanction is agreed in advance with the NMC’s lawyers. The sanction is then put before the fitness to practise committee, who normally agree.
How do they work?
The NMC will give the nurse or midwife the opportunity to resolve the case by consent after the investigation has concluded but before any fitness to practise committee hearing. Agreeing to a consensual panel determination normally means accepting the charges against you and admitting that your fitness to practise was impaired.
If the nurse or midwife agrees on an appropriate sanction in advance, it will be presented to the fitness to practise committee in a short hearing. The committee will decide whether to approve the agreement or not and may vary the terms with the consent of both parties.
In the unlikely event that the agreed sanctions are rejected by the panel, the case will be put to a new fitness to practise committee for a full hearing in due course.
What are the benefits of a consensual panel determination?
- It encourages the nurse or midwife to become involved at an earlier stage;
- It means that the need for witnesses to attend hearings unnecessarily is avoided;
- It reduces the length of hearings and avoids the need for full hearings;
- It enables the NMC to concentrate its resources on cases where there are significant matters in dispute; and
- It enables cases to be concluded more quickly.