Nurses and Midwives

Advice and support for Nurses and Midwives dealing with complaints made to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

We specialise in providing help and support to nurses and midwives who are facing complaints, or disciplinary action by the NMC. Our team have experience of both assisting those facing complaints and presenting cases on behalf of the NMC, and are equipped to advise you of your rights and obligations within the complaints procedure.

We are happy to provide representation in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, and if you wish to discuss the help we can provide we are happy to you speak to you in confidence without charge.

It cannot be stressed enough, that the earlier you receive advice, the more likely it is that you will achieve a favourable outcome.

If you wish to instruct us and you have union membership, or you have legal expenses insurance this might cover the costs of any work we under on your behalf

 

The Role of the HCPC and Complaints Procedures

The HCPC is the UK regulatory body charged with oversight of the fitness to practice of arts therapists and use of the following professional titles:

A professional wishing to practice in any of these areas in the UK must apply and be accepted on the HCPC register. The HCPC is responsible for ensuring compliance with the registration requirements.

Referral of a professional to the HCPC can be made by any source, (for example, patients, colleagues, employers, or the police), however, irrespective of how the HCPC are informed, once a credible complaint has been raised with them they are under a duty to investigate.

The primary focus of the HCPC is to protect the public. As a regulator it falls to the HCPC to investigate and adjudicate on any referral of alleged impairment of a professional’s fitness to practice.

HCPC Investigation

Any professional who finds themselves under investigation is advised by the HCPC to seek representation, and at Hollingsworth Edwards we are well placed to guide you through this process. Needless to say, effective representation at an early stage makes a favourable outcome more likely.

A complaint which questions a professional’s fitness to practice, or fraudulent or incorrect entry onto the register will trigger an investigation. The investigation will be conducted by an HCPC case officer who will prepare the case, obtaining statements from potential witnesses and other documentary evidence.

Any professional under investigation will be entitled to provide written representations on the evidence gathered by the HCPC case officer. Hollingsworth Edwards can help you respond appropriately and effectively, and we will ensure that the deadlines for such responses are not missed. Additionally we will ensure you are fully apprised of your obligations in this process.

Once the material relating to a complaint has been collated, it will be provided to the Investigating Committee Panel who meet in private to consider whether there is a case to answer, and if so whether there is a real prospect of the case being proved at a hearing if one were to be held. No other parties are entitled to be present when the Investigating Committee Panel meet.

The following decision can be made by the Investigating Committee Panel:

  • More information is needed
  • There is ‘no case to answer’ (which means that the case does not need to be taken any further)
  • There is a ‘case to answer’ (which means that the Investigating Committee Panel will pass the case to another panel).

Complaints relating to competence will be referred to the Conduct and Competence Committee for a Fitness to Practice hearing.

Complaints on the grounds of health will be referred to the Health Committee for a Fitness to Practice hearing.

Cases of fraudulent or incorrect entry on the register will be referred to a further Investigating Committee Panel who hear the evidence and adjudicate on the allegation at a public hearing. If at this hearing the Panel are satisfied that the complaint is made out, they will amend the register to reflect their findings.

HCPC Fitness to Practise Panels: Hearings

The HCPC 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.

Every panel will be composed of at least three people, including someone from the relevant profession and a lay person (someone not registered with the HCPC).

Any fitness to practice hearings commencing on or after 3 November 2008 will be determined using the civil standard of proof (the balance of probabilities- “more likely than not”). Any cases for which the charge is before that date will be decided on the criminal standard of proof (is the complaint proved beyond reasonable doubt).

In determining fitness to practice, before imposing any sanction the panel will first have to determine that the incident happened as set out in the allegation, and that:

  • the incident amounts to ‘grounds’ set out in the allegation (for example, misconduct or a lack of competence); and
  • your fitness to practise is impaired as a result.

Powers of fitness to practice panels

If a fitness to practice panel find any complaint not to be “well founded” there will not be any further action. However, if a panel is satisfied that a complaint is proven then they will have to decide the most appropriate action, if any, to take. In such circumstances, the panel will have the following powers open to them:

  • 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; or
  • Decide, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, it is not appropriate to take further action

The Health Committee panels

Panels of the Health Committee adjudicate upon a professional's fitness to practise where potential issues of impairment arise out of physical or mental ill health.

Health Committee panel hearings are normally open to the public, although under certain circumstances part of the hearing may be heard in private. However, the reasons for a determination will always be made public.

Conduct and Competence Committee Panels (CCC)

Panels of the CCC consider complaints referred to them where a practitioner’s fitness to practice is alleged to be impaired by reason of:

  • Misconduct
  • Lack of competence;
  • A conviction or caution for criminal offence; or
  • A determination by other regulators to bar a professional.

CCC panel hearings are normally open to the public, although under certain circumstances part of the hearing can be heard in private. However the reasons for a determination will always be made public.

Interim order hearings

You are allowed representation at an Interim Order Hearing, and if such a hearing is listed Hollingsworth Edwards can provide you with an experienced advocate to represent you.

Interim orders are orders restricting or preventing a professional from continuing to practice while a complaint is being investigated, or awaiting a final hearing.

The Investigating Committee, Conduct and Competence Committee, or Health Committee can all refer cases to an Interim Orders hearing if they consider the continued practice of the professional poses a potential threat to the public.

Interim Order hearings are normally heard at short notice, and if deemed appropriate the panel will have the following power to make the following order:

  • Interim suspension order: suspension of the professional's registration;
  • Interim conditions of practice order: imposed conditions restricting the practice of the professional 

Interim Orders must be reviewed after six months and then every three months after that.

Appeal

If you think that a panel’s decision is wrong, or the sanction imposed on you was unfair you may appeal the decision. Any appeal by a professional against a decision made by the Fitness to Practice Panel must be made to the High Court in England and Wales or in Northern Ireland, or the Court of Session in Scotland.

Any appeal must be made within 28 days of a decision being served on a professional.

Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSAHSC)

The PSAHSC reviews all of the decision made by the NMC fitness to practice committees, and has the power to appeal against any decision that it considers to be unduly lenient and inconsistent with protection of the public.

Any appeal by the PSAHSC would have to be made to the High Court in England and Wales or in Northern Ireland, or the Court of Session in Scotland.

HCPC Complaint Flowchart

HCPC Complaint Flowchart