The Authority's Response to Modernising fitness to practise: changes to the Fitness to Practise Rules 2004
We welcome the opportunity to comment on the proposals to amend the NMC’s Fitness to Practise Rules
Consensual disposal, effectively operated provides regulators with the ability to protect the public, without having to go down an adversarial route that can be expensive, lengthy, and unnecessarily stressful for both service users and registrants. We therefore support the NMC’s proposals to expand the powers of case examiners – and investigating committees – to undertakings, warnings and advice.
Risks and concerns
We nevertheless consider that there are some risks with the proposals which need to be addressed. These are particularly likely to arise in situations where there is a heavy caseload and where there are incentives for cases to be dealt with as quickly as possible or for the caseload to be reduced.
We have a general concern that there is insufficient detail within the consultation document to allow a full assessment of the appropriateness or otherwise of the NMC’s intentions. For example, there was little information provided about the thresholds for different disposal options – an essential aspect of the framework. We found that certain aspects of the process were unclear, such as at what point in the investigation stage undertakings could be offered (for example, what is meant by ‘initial consideration of the case’?), and when and how registrants would be given the opportunity to respond to the possibility of a particular disposal option. We understand that there is still time for further development of the proposals before they are implemented, but a basic outline of the process and decision points would have been extremely helpful. Without these it is hard to judge the fairness, transparency, and robustness of the process.