NMC charges have historically been published by the regulator. Irrespective the fact that no hearing had taken place or any finding of truth over an allegation, all the charges involved in the case along with accompanying details would be made publicly available 28 days ahead of the hearing taking place.
The new NMC is that from now on they only provide detailed information relating to the case once the charges have been read out in public at the hearing. In terms of professional reputation of individuals facing unfounded NMC charges, this is a welcome improvement.
A certain amount of disclosure may still take place, but only published a week in advance of a hearing. That information would include the name of the person facing NMC charges, their PIN, venue and date of the hearing, country where the allegation took place, and also the NMC committee dealing with the case.
In terms of professional reputation of individuals facing unfounded NMC charges, this is a welcome improvement."
An exception to this rule is now allowed for when a hearing is held in private. A request for a private hearing was recently made during the case against Pauline Cafferkey, a nurse who had survived Ebola, faced NMC charges, but was then cleared of all misconduct allegations. In cases like this charges would not be made available until the case has concluded.
The NMC talking with the Nursing Times said it would “help to ensure fairness to all parties”, because charges could sometimes change by the time the hearing began.
The Nursing Times probed the NMC as to whether the decision had been made as a consequence of the recent well publicised case against Ms Cafferkey. A spokeswoman for the regulator replied to them that the changes in the disclosure of NMC charges were “something the NMC had been considering for a little while”.
“These changes will help to ensure fairness to all parties, as charges at pre-hearing stage may be subject to change,” added the spokeswoman.
”We will still publish details of each hearing, including the headline charge, a week ahead of the hearing taking place and we will provide a copy of the full charges once they have been confirmed on the day,” she said, in response to the Nursing Times.
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Whilst the new process means greater protection of nurses and midwives reputation in the run up to hearings, the issue remains that NMC charges can lead to practitioners having to appear before the NMC. According NMC Annual Fitness to Practice Report, 2012-13, 43% of NMC final hearings result in nurses and midwives being struck off the register. Many nurses and midwives in this situation might well find themselves in a state of panic and anxiety facing a ‘Fitness to Practise’ hearing. A qualified nursing defence lawyer can give advice on how to best proceed with a case, and how to maximise your chance of a positive outcome. At NMC Defence Barristers, we provide legal services for nurses and our nursing defence lawyers have considerable experience before a variety of tribunals and have represented numerous nurses and midwives working in a wide variety of clinical settings.
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