The NMC have introduced recent changes to the powers conferred on their case examiners. This brings the NMC more closely aligned to the GMC in the way they consider cases.
The Case Examiners powers now include:
Giving Advice
The advice is given privately to the nurse or midwife and is designed to assist the registrant in adhering to safe and effective practice. This advice is usually given following a minor breach of the Code that has been acknowledged the registrant.
Issuing a Warning
Warning are made public and are used to mark a concern which is considered serious. This resolves the issue without progressing to a hearing and is offered where the nurse or midwife has been able to demonstrate insight and has taken steps to remediate his / her actions. A warning is usually only appropriate where there is no risk to patients.
Recommending Undertakings
Undertakings are agreed measures to be taken by the nurse / midwife to address an area of practice which is a cause of concern and which is the cause of a current clinical risk to patients.
Making a referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee
A referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee is appropriate where there is a case to answer and where there is dispute of the facts of the case or where the concerns raised about the nurse or midwife are sufficiently serious to require a hearing.
What the decision of the Case Examiners means for you
Whilst these changes can assist both the NMC and the registrant in bringing the case to a quicker conclusion, registrants should bear in mind that the burden of proving the case against you still rests with the NMC and that appropriate scrutiny of the referral and evidence should be carried out. It is advisable to seek legal advice before a written response is provided by you to the NMC once a referral has been made. If your case is being considered by the Case Examiners ensure you have been able to effectively and appropriately present your side.
Should the Case Examiners decide to issue a warning do seek legal advice about the implications of having a warning on your record.
Should the Case Examiners offer to conclude the case by offering undertakings seek legal advice before making any decision.