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Scrutinising final fitness to practise decisions

Between June and the end of September we scrutinised 1,148 final fitness to practise panel determinations and referred four cases (three cases from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC); and one from the General Dental Council) to the High Court/Court of Session. As we remarked in our annual report for 2017/18, we have seen a slight decline in final fitness to practise decisions notified to us. This is a trend that has continued between June-September 2018. (See our key stats for this period below, or to get an idea of the trend, you can compare the stats for this period for the last three years: 2016 = 1,386; 2017 = 1,433; 2018 = 1,148.)

We carried out a short review to see if we could identify any patterns. One of the main reasons for the reduction can be attributed to the NMC reducing its backlog of cases and possibly also the way the NMC has been exercising its powers which means that not as many cases are proceeding to hearings. We will look more closely at this aspect of the NMC’s work when we conduct their next performance review.

Scrutinising final fitness to practise decisions: June-September 2018

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Learning points

We send learning points out to the regulators where we believe there is a potential problem with the process or decision but where we feel an appeal is not warranted.

Last year we disseminated these more widely to the regulators in the form of learning digests. These brought together themes we have identified as part of our scrutiny of final fitness to practise cases, as well as points of law and case studies.

We sent out the third learning digest in August. This focused on three themes identified from the volume of learning points we sent to the regulators between January and July 2018: health cases; failing to seek expert evidence; and failing to bring full allegations. You can read through this digest as well as our previous digests on our website. (The first digest concentrated on the quality and level of detail in determinations; and the second digest looked at dishonesty, retrospective amendment of allegations and offering no evidence.)

Engaging with the regulators/stakeholders

The Authority’s Director of Scrutiny and Quality, Mark Stobbs, recently spoke at the Disciplinary Tribunals Conference on dishonesty and integrity. The Authority’s Scrutiny and Quality team has given presentations about our scrutiny work and what we look out for when reading determinations. If you are interested in asking us to deliver presentations to panel members, you can get in touch with Sophie.Joseph@professionalstandards.org.uk. Recently the Health and Care Professions Council took us up on this offer and our Senior Solicitors delivered training to their legal assessors and case managers.

Reviewing regulators’ performance

Since our last newsletter, we have published performance reviews for the:

Look out for our next review – for the General Chiropractic Council – which we will be publishing in the next couple of weeks. You can find all our performance reviews on our website.