NMC Hearing or NMC Meeting: Which is Best?
NMC Meeting or NMC Hearing, by P Maudsley
Nurses Defence Service is often asked whether a nurse should agree to their fitness to practise case being heard at a meeting instead of a hearing. Our lawyer, P Maudsley, summarises the principal matters for consideration, below.
NMC Substantive hearings and NMC meetings
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) send out a document, referred to as the Case Management Form, once it has been decided by the Case Examiners that there is a case to answer and the matter has been referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee.
This form must be completed and returned to the Nursing and Midwifery Council within 28 days. On this form, one of the questions will be ‘would you like your case todealt with at a meeting or a hearing?
What is the difference and which one should a nurse or midwife choose?
At a meeting the Fitness to Practise Committee meet, along with a legal assessor (if the Chairman is not a qualified lawyer) and decide the case on the papers.
A nurse or midwife does not have the opportunity to attend and speak to a Panel of the Fitness to Practise Committee, neither does the Nursing and Midwifery Council send a representative to attend on their behalf.
However, the nurse or midwife has the opportunity to send in documentation, supporting evidence such as exhibits and testimonials. He/she can also send in a statement setting out their position for the Committee to consider.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council will send a statement setting out their case.
If a nurse or midwife does not respond to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and specify whether he/she wants a hearing or a meeting, the Nursing and Midwifery Council will probably schedule a meeting. This will deprive the nurse or midwife from attending a hearing if that is what he/she would have preferred.
However, some cases are not suitable for a meeting as it is a disputed case and it is in the public interest to have a hearing.
A hearing is an opportunity for the case to be heard by live evidence before a Fitness to Practise Committee.
The nurse or midwife must request a hearing on the Case Management Form.
A hearing gives a nurse or midwife the opportunity to speak to the Panel and bring witnesses to speak on his/her behalf. Witnesses for the Nursing and Midwifery
Council will also be able to attend to be to cross examined. Questions can be asked by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Panel. Oral submission are made on behalf of the nurse or midwife and by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The public have the opportunity to attend a Fitness to Practise hearing unless the hearing is to be held in private, for example because it is an issue of health.
For more information on the hearing process, see our article: NMC Fitness to Practise Substantive Hearings
When the Nursing and Midwifery Council receive a referral, it will decide whether it will make an application for an interim order. This will be held at a hearing rather than a meeting.
Interim Order hearings are held in private.
However, any review of an interim order will be open to either a meeting or a hearing. If there are no material changes in the circumstances, then it is likely that a meeting will be preferred. However, if a nurse or midwife wishes to attend a review hearing, he/she can request a hearing.
For more information on the interim orders process, see our article: Interim Orders of the NMC
Substantive Order Review
The Committee may decide a review is required following a substantive order. The Committee may order a review hearing. However, it may be possible to have a meeting rather than a hearing if there are no real issues that need to be resolved at a hearing.
A restoration application will usually be held at a hearing as the Committee will need to hear from the nurse or midwife to decide if the nurse is a fit and proper person to be restored back on to the register. For more information on applying for Restoration to the NMC Register.
If you would like legal advice on whether to agree to a meeting or a hearing, contact Nurses Defence Service in strict confidence and without any obligation on: 0800 0122 506