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Scutinising final fitness to practise decisions

A panel decision which ruled there was no case to answer based on the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s poor investigation and decision to offer no evidence

(We referred to this appeal in our January newsletter, but the judgment was not handed down until after we had circulated the newsletter.)

This appeal was heard in December 2017 and the judgment was handed down on Friday, 19 January 2018.

The NMC had offered no evidence on a charge that the registrant – a nurse – had been directly or indirectly responsible for non-accidental injuries caused to her baby. The NMC’s panel found there was no case to answer. 

We were concerned that, though the NMC did have evidence which could establish a case to answer, it had had not been provided to the panel. We were also concerned that the NMC had not made sufficient efforts to obtain documents from the Family Court relevant to the charge and did not provide enough information to the panel about evidence that may have been available. The registrant did not oppose the Authority’s appeal, but the NMC argued that it was disproportionate to obtain documents from the Family Court and that even if the charge had been found proved, it could not have resulted in risk of harm to the public or damage to the reputation of the nursing profession.

The Court found for the Authority, criticising the NMC’s decision to offer no evidence and commented on the quality of the NMC’s investigation and the lack of information it provided to enable the panel to determine whether there was a case to answer. The Court ordered that the case be remitted to an NMC panel for hearing in respect of the charge and for the NMC to decide whether further evidence should be obtained.

Recent cases

The Authority recently considered concerns about the doctor involved in the care of a young man, who tragically died while in care. The Authority decided not to appeal the decision of the MPTS, which imposed a suspension of 12 months with a review. 

We have also reached agreement with the NMC on a registrant who was alleged to have punched a patient, breaking the patient’s jaw and had restrained another using a duvet. We appealed the decision and the case was due to be heard at Court on 1 May. However, the NMC has agreed that the case will remitted to an NMC panel to reconsider.

Find out  more in the Latest news section of our website.

Learning points

We identify learning points as part of our scrutiny of the regulators' final fitness to practise panel decisions and feed them back to regulators. We thought it would be helpful to draw together the broader themes we observe and produce a Learning points digest which we send out to the regulators, as well as publish on our website. 

Stats for learning points















We recently circulated the second digest. This digest focused on dishonesty, retrospective amendment of allegations and offering no evidence. The Digest discussed the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Ivey v Genting Casinos to remind fitness to practise panels that (as of 25 October 2017), they should now refer to the case of Ivey for reference to the test for dishonesty, and that it is no longer appropriate to use the Ghosh test.

Reviewing the regulators

Latest performance reviews published

We have now published our performance reviews for the General Medical Council and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. Both organisations met all 24 of the Standards of Good Regulation. You can read the full performance reviews or snapshots for both the GMC and the PSNI on our website.

PSNI performance review 2016-17