NMC Fitness to Practise (FtP) panels: Hearings
The NMC panels hold hearings to decide whether the allegation of impairment is proved and if so, what action to take. They also consider restoration to the register where a person has previously been removed.
The Health Committee Panels
Panels of the Health Committee (HC) decide whether or not a nurse or midwife's fitness to practise is impaired by physical or mental ill health and, if so, what is the appropriate sanction required to ensure the safety of the public.
Conduct and Competence Committee Panels (CCC)
Panels of the CCC consider allegations referred to them by the IC or the HC. CCC hearings are generally held in public because the openness of the proceedings reflects the NMC's public accountability. The CCC panel may agree to parts of the case being held in private, if by doing so, it protects the anonymity of the person who is the alleged victim, or if disclosure of confidential medical evidence is involved. The panel will decide whether a registrant’s fitness to practice is impaired by reason of:
- lack of competence
- criminal offence
- mental or physical health
- a determination by a health professions body in the UK
The CCC has a range of powers. In relation to its final sanction, it can decide to:
- strike off the practitioner’s name from the register
- suspend the practitioner's registration for a specified period not to exceed one year
- impose a conditions of practice for a specified period not to exceed three years
- issue a caution for a specified period of between one and five years
- conclude that the case is not well founded and therefore take no further action
- decide, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, it is not appropriate to take further action
The Investigating Committee (IC), Conduct and Competence Committee (CCC) or Health Committee (HC) can refer cases to an Interim Orders hearing if they consider a nurse or midwife to be a threat to the public if they continue to practice during the investigation, for example, cases involving rape or assault.
Interim order hearings
All three committees can make interim orders at public hearings while a case is being investigated and awaiting a final decision. The nurse or midwife can attend and be represented.
- Interim suspension order: suspension of the nurse or midwife's registration for no more than 18 months.
- Interim conditions of practice order:imposed conditions on the nurse or midwife for no more than 18 months.
Investigations continue alongside interim orders. Orders must be reviewed after six months and then every three months. The NMC must apply to the High Court if it wishes to extend an interim order for up to one year.
Nurses and midwives can appeal against decisions made by FtP Panels to the High Court in England. Appeals must be made within 28 days of a decision being served on a nurse or midwife. Appeals regarding fraudulent or incorrect entries are heard in the county court.
CHRE- Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence
The CHRE has the power to appeal against a decision of the NMC (or the decision of any other regulatory body) on the grounds that a decision is ‘unduly lenient’. This is in accordance with Section 29 of the National Health Service Reforms and Health care Professions Act 2002. All decisions of the FtP Panels are automatically referred by the NMC to the CHRE for their consideration.