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Legal Help for Nurses: A Guide to NMC Investigations

The prospect of facing an NMC Investigation can be a rather daunting affair, especially whilst balancing it with your day-to-day nursing or midwifery profession. So, to help you out, our team of NMC defence lawyers have assembled this easy-to-understand NMC Investigations guide, answering some commonly asked questions regarding the NMC Investigation procedure.

To get started, click on a question below regarding NMC Investigations:

What does NMC stand for?
Who do the NMC regulate?
I have a criminal conviction or caution, will the NMC still allow me to register?
Who might have referred me to the NMC for an investigation?
What do the NMC mean by ‘fitness to practise?’
What sort of allegations will the NMC investigate?
What should I do if I have just been told I am the subject of an NMC investigation?
What is an Interim Order?
What is the role of the Case Examiner?
How will the NMC investigate the allegations against me?
Where are NMC hearings held?
What happens before the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee?
Can I appeal the outcome of an NMC hearing?
What is revalidation for the NMC?
When do I need to revalidate for the NMC?
Can I apply to the NMC for restoration having previously been struck off?
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What does NMC stand for?

NMC is an acronym, standing for the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

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Who do the NMC regulate?

The NMC regulates all nurses and midwives in the UK.

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I have a criminal conviction or caution, will the NMC still allow me to register?

They may do, just depending on the circumstances. The NMC will expect you to openly declare to them from the outset, the nature of the conviction or caution. They will want to see evidence of remediation and insight, particularly if the conviction involved an element of dishonesty.

We have experience in assisting nurses and midwives to declare criminal cautions and convictions to the NMC. We understand how they will assess remediation and insight and therefore how best to present your situation to them, to increase your prospects of being registered on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Register.

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Who might have referred me to the NMC for an investigation?

NMC investigations accept referrals from a variety of sources, but usually from employers, colleagues, other healthcare professionals, members of the public and the police.

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What do the NMC mean by ‘fitness to practise?’

The NMC require a nurse or midwife to have the appropriate skills, knowledge, good character and good health, to enable them to perform their role safely and effectively. The NMC will assess a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise against their code of conduct.  Read the code for nurses and Midwives.

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What sort of allegations will the NMC investigate?

The NMC will investigate allegations that a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of their misconduct, lack of competence, a conviction or caution for a criminal offence, physical or mental health, or a decision of impairment by another health or social care regulator. The NMC also investigate allegations that a nurse or midwife’s entry in the register has been fraudulently obtained or incorrectly made.

Essentially the NMC will investigate a nurse or midwife if an allegation is made that they do not meet the appropriate standards for their conduct and ability, as set out in the NMC’s Code of Practice.

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What should I do if I have just been told I am the subject of an NMC investigation?

  • Continue to practise, unless an Interim Suspension Order has been issued;
  • Tell your employer that you are under investigation by the NMC and ask them about the possibility of providing a reference for you;
  • Cooperate with, and engage in, the process throughout;
  • Renew your registration as usual, if it is due for renewal during an investigation;
  • Keep the NMC informed of any change in your personal contact details;
  • Contact our NMC defence solicitors for an initial free telephone consultation for some urgent advice about the best way forward.

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What is an Interim Order?

During an NMC investigation, the NMC can refer you for an interim hearing before the Investigating Committee. At an NMC interim hearing, a panel will hear from both sides and will decide whether to take any action against your registration as an interim measure, pending the outcome of the NMC proceedings.

The Panel may make no order, or they may suspend your registration or impose interim conditions on you. The NMC will seek to balance the public interest with your rights as an individual nurse or midwife.

If you have been referred for an interim orders hearing before the NMC, then please contact our NMC defence team for urgent advice and representation.

If the NMC’s Investigating Committee imposes an interim order against you, they will review that order every 6 months in a review hearing. It is usually advisable to attend the review hearing and be legally represented, so that you can deal with any issues that may arise. It is not safe to assume that the review hearing will simply continue the order imposed previously.

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What is the role of the Case Examiner?

The role of the Case Examiner is to determine whether there is a case for the nurse or midwife to answer and if so, whether there is a real prospect of the allegation being proved, if the allegations were referred to a hearing.

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How will the NMC investigate the allegations against me?

If an allegation has been made that questions your fitness to practise as a nurse or midwife, there will be an NMC investigation. The NMC may take witness statements, collate documentary evidence and liaise with your current employer. You will be invited to comment on the allegations at various stages, including once the NMC investigation has concluded, before your case is submitted to Case Examiners to consider the allegations against you.

It is essential, where possible, to obtain specialist legal advice before making any representations to the NMC. Anything said by the nurse or midwife at this stage, will be referred to during the entire NMC proceedings. A response, therefore, needs to be carefully drafted, to ensure it achieves the desired outcome.

If the Case Examiner decides there is a case for you to answer, you will be referred to the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee or the NMC’s Health Committee.

If you have been asked to make any comments about allegations during an NMC investigation, please contact us for urgent advice, as this is a critical stage of an NMC’s investigation. We can advise you whether this is the most appropriate time to make effective representations and if so, what approach should be taken to the representations.

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Where are NMC hearings held?

The NMC have a number of locations for their hearings. They hold hearings in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. Most of their hearings are in London, either at 61 Aldwych, London or 2 Stratford Place, Montfichet Road, London. The NMC website provides directions to each of their hearing centres. View directions to the hearing centres.

Both hearing centres in London are conveniently close to our London office. Where hearings are held in Cardiff, they are on the same road as our Cardiff office.

If you have an NMC hearing listed and you still do not have a legal representative, then please give us a call to see if we can help. We are often instructed close to hearing dates and can still make a significant difference to the outcome.

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What happens before the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee?

The NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee will hear evidence from both sides and will decide whether the facts of the allegations have been proved. If so, they will decide whether the conduct amounts to misconduct. They will then consider if the misconduct means that the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired.

If the Panel finds that fitness to practise is impaired, they will then consider the most appropriate sanction. The Committee will consider the following sanctions:

  • No further action;
  • Caution;
  • Conditions of Practise Order;
  • Suspension;
  • Strike Off.

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Can I appeal the outcome of an NMC hearing?

You can appeal a decision by the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee to the High Court. However you only have 28 days from the day of the NMC’s decision to prepare and lodge an appeal. If you are considering appealing the NMC’s decision, please contact us without delay, to enable us to give you pragmatic legal advice about the merits of your appeal.
Appeals can represent a significant financial and emotional investment and it is essential that you only lodge an appeal if you have a legally arguable case with some prospect of success. We will give you honest and robust advice about your appeal. Where that advice is positive, we can lodge your appeal and represent you before the High Court.

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What is revalidation for the NMC?

This is a new process, introduced by the NMC in April 2016. It means that every nurse and midwife must revalidate every 3 years to renew their registration. It is intended as an opportunity to demonstrate that as a nurse or midwife you adhere to the standards set out in the Code. This replaces the previous process whereby a nurse or midwife renewed their registration by submitting a Notification of Practise form. The NMC Revalidation website provides more detail on the revalidation process, as well as guidance and various forms and templates to use.

If you don’t already have one, the first thing you will need to do is set up an NMC online account. You will then need to provide evidence for the three year period since you either joined the register or your registration was last renewed, of the following:

  • A minimum of 450 practise hours over the last 3 years (or 900 if renewing as both a nurse and midwife);
  • 35 hours of CPD (including 20 hours of participatory learning);
  • 5 pieces of practise-related feedback – this can be written or verbal, from patients, colleagues or management;
  • 5 written reflective accounts – on your practise or CPD and how they relate to the Code;
  • A reflective discussion with another NMC registrant about your 5 written reflective accounts;
  • A health and character declaration;
  • A declaration of your professional indemnity arrangement;
  • Confirmation, usually from your line manager, that you have complied with the revalidation process.

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When do I need to revalidate for the NMC?

You must revalidate every three years. Your revalidation is due on the first day of the month in which your registration is due to expire. If you are unsure of your revalidation date, you can check your NMC online account for this. You should receive formal notification, at least 60 days before your revalidation is due, that your application has opened and you can submit your application at any time during this 60 day window.

If you encounter any difficulties with revalidation, feel you may require special arrangements or fall into special circumstances that mean you cannot meet the requirements of revalidation and need assistance, we can offer advice and support through the process.

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Can I apply to the NMC for restoration having previously been struck off?

If 5 years have passed since you were stuck off by the NMC, you may be able to apply to be restored. However it is not a straightforward exercise. The burden is on the nurse or midwife to prove to an NMC Committee that they should be allowed to be restored. The NMC will want to see evidence of remediation and insight, to be satisfied that it is appropriate to consider the nurse or midwife for restoration. The NMC will also want to see evidence that the nurse or midwife has maintained the appropriate skills and knowledge to ensure that it would be safe for the public to restore them.

If you are considering an application for restoration, please contact us for advice. We can devise for you an action plan of steps to be taken, to give you the best possible prospects for a successful restoration application. We can also represent you in the NMC hearing where a Panel will consider your restoration hearing.

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13. Ask another question

Do you have another question relating to NMC investigations that hasn’t been covered in our guide? Feel free to ask Richard Nelson LLP’s nmc investigation solicitors and we’ll endeavour to get back in touch with you as soon as possible.

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If you would like additional information regarding NMC Investigations, feel free to contact our Defense Lawyers today for an obligation-free chat. Alternatively, you can find out more information about our NMC Lawyer service by following the link below:

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