Restoration Applications to the NMC Register following Strike-Off
Legal Representation at NMC Restoration Hearings
If you are a nurse or midwife who was struck off the register following a fitness to practise decision, you may apply for restoration to Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register after a period of 5 years has passed since the date the Striking Off Order came into effect. (see also our separate article for those Nurses and Midwives returning to practise who were not struck off.)
Applying for Restoration
A nurse or midiwife who has been struck off can apply for restoration not before the passage of five years. The five years runs from the date of the initial decision, or the date an appeal was dismissed or withdrawn. This means that if the decision to strike off was appealed and dismissed by the High Court, the period of 5 years came into effect following the decision of the High Court. As court delays are common, this could mean that a nurse has not been able to practise for longer than five notional years.
Restoration will only be granted if the Panel consider that you are now a fit and proper person to practise the relevant profession. There are no guarantees of success but there are stepos that can be taken to improve one’s prospects of success.
As you have been out of practise for a period of 5 years or more, you must also fulfil the additional requirements for education or training and experience.
The legal requirements can be found in Article 33 of the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001.
The restoration process
The application must be made on a standard form. Within 2 weeks of your application being received, the NMC will provide you with a summary of the facts which led to the striking off.
Three referees must be nominated. They will be contacted by the NMC to enquire as to your suitability to be restored to the register. They will also be sent a summary of the facts.
Once the NMC receive the information they will schedule the application for a hearing before a Fitness to Practise Committee Panel.
It is advisable to attend the hearing and be legally represented.
The onus is on you as the applicant, to show that they are now a fit and proper person to be restored to the register.
A restoration hearing is not an opportunity to re-visit the original decision. The decision will be made on the evidence before the Panel.
The Panel will ask questions relating to what you have done since the striking off. They will be looking for evidence that you have reflected on the past, shown insight and made attempts to remedy any of the previous findings. The Panel will also want to know what you intend to do if the application is granted in terms of future practise and what measures have been put in place to ensure knowledge and skills are up to date.
It is advisable to secure a place on the Return to Practise Course (Nursing and/or Midwifery) as this shows preparation for future practise.
The NMC suggest in the NMC Restotration Guidance Document the following questions may be asked by the Panel:
- What have you been doing since you were struck off?
- How do you feel about the incidents that led to your name being removed?
- How can you be sure something similar will not happen again?
- What would you like to do if your application is successful?
- How do you plan to get back into professional practice?
- What have you done to keep up to date with developments in the profession?
- Do you think you need professional updating? If so, how do you plan to get it?
The hearing will be conducted in public unless there are reasons for the hearing to be held in private, such as health matters.
The Panel will consist of 3 members, assisted by a legal assessor who advises on the law only (unless the chair is legally qualified). The NMC will be represented by a lawyer.
The hearing will start with introductions and then the Chair will confirm that you will agree to tell the truth by swearing an oath/affirmation. You will also confirm your name and previous registration details, that is your PIN.
Standard questions will then be read by the Chair:
- whether you have been convicted of any criminal offence since being struck off
- whether you are the subject of any criminal proceedings at the moment, and
- whether you have claimed to be a registered nurse, midwife or nursing associate since you knew you had been struck-off.
The NMC representative will outline the reason that a Striking Off Order was made. You will then be able to put forward your case for restoration. You may give evidence and be asked questions by the NMC representative and the Panel. You may also bring witnesses to speak on your behalf.
Once the evidence is complete the NMC representative will summarise their case and you will be given the opportunity to summarise your case.
The Panel will then retire and make their decision in private.
The NMC Panel may make the following decisions:
- Refuse the application.
- Grant the application subject to you satisfying requirements relating to additional education or training and experience. You will then need to complete the readmission process (which usually takes two to six weeks).
- Impose a conditions of practice order for up to 3 years which will come into effect once you have successfully completed the relevant education and training requirements and the readmission process.
If the application is successful, the Panel will direct the Registrar to register you in the relevant part of the register. However, you will probably need to undertake the Return to Practise Course before applying for re-admission and receiving your PIN.
If the Panel has granted your application but made it conditional with a Conditions of Practice Order then once you have completed the Return to Practise Course, applied for re-admission and received your PIN, you will only be able to practise with the Order in place. This will be for up to 3 years. Once it is due for expiry, it will be reviewed.
If the application is refused, you are unable to re-apply for a period 12 months under Article 33(2) (b) of The Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001.
If you make a second unsuccessful application, under Article 33 (9) of The Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001, the Panel may direct that that your right to make any further such applications shall be suspended indefinitely.
However, under Article 33 (10) of The Nursing and Midwifery order 2001, if the Panel have made a decision to suspend any future applications, after 3 years, you can apply to the Registrar for that direction to be reviewed. If that is granted, then a review of the decision to suspend may be reviewed. The Registrar will refer your application to a Fitness to Practise Committee Panel for a hearing.
The decision to refuse restoration, be made subject to you satisfying requirements under Article 33 (6) or refused review under Article 33 (10) can be appealed. You have 28 days in which to lodge and appeal to the High Court.
Case law on restoration
Case law from the regulators is an important factor to bear in mind when applying for restoration. In the case of Lamming, a doctor who had been erased by the Medical Practitioner’s Tribunal (MPT) applied for restoration to be restored to the medical register operated by the General Medical Council. He had been erased for matters of dishonesty in 2007. The application was opposed by the General Medical Council (GMC).
In evidence before the Panel, the doctor gave inconsistent evidence compared with his evidence in 2007. However, the Panel concluded that it was not appropriate to re-litigate the decision in 2007. The doctor had shown insight and reflection into his dishonesty and completed appropriate ethics training.
The GMC appealed the decision on the grounds that his inconsistent evidence showed a lack of insight and a propensity to remain dishonest. The MPT had failed to deal with the gravity of the inconsistencies.
The High Court overturned the decision to grant restoration stating that the MPT had failed to consider the various inconsistencies and why these had occurred in any detail. They had therefore not confronted the doctor’s dishonesty and the impact on his insight and propensity to be dishonest. A failure of the tribunal to properly consider and weigh up matters meant that the decision could not stand. Therefore, it is is essential that any nurse facing a restoration hearing properly prepares.
We can advise nurses and midwives on statements, evidence, courses, insight and remediation, when applying for restoration to the NMC Register. To discuss a restoration application, call Nurses Defence Service without obligation on: 0800 0122 506