How you can observe a hearing
If you would like to observe a physical or virtual hearing, please complete our form below and make sure that you agree to the rules for observing an NMC hearing.
- You can book onto a hearing up to a month in advance. Bookings close two working days before the hearing is due to start.
- It’s very rare for us to have to reject a booking, but we do limit the number of observers and accept bookings on a first-come-first-served basis, unless you’re connected to the case.
- Most substantive hearings start on Mondays or Tuesdays – you’re more likely to hear witness evidence if you attend on these days.
You can view a physical hearing in person at one of our hearing centres. There is step-free access to all of our hearing centres.
If you have reasonable adjustments which mean you are not able to attend a physical hearing in-person, please let us know.
For virtual hearings, we grant a limited number of observers audio-only access. If audio-only access is difficult for you, or you need any other reasonable adjustment to observe a virtual hearing, please let us know.
If you are observing a hearing from 1 April 2023, we can grant full visual access.
If you would like to observe a physical or virtual hearing as part of a group, please contact us directly.
If you have any questions about observing a hearing, please email us.
You can view a schedule of upcoming hearings.
What to expect
During the hearing
For more information about what to expect during a physical or virtual hearing, please see the following handbooks:
Our hearings normally start at 09:30 (09:00 for interim order hearings) and finish by around 17:30, but may start and run later than that. If you are attending a physical or virtual hearing, please wait until you are asked to join the hearing by the hearings coordinator.
Public or private hearings
Our hearings are usually held in public. However, a panel can hear all or part of a hearing in private when it is satisfied that it is reasonable and proportionate to do so, and it is justified in the interests of any party (including any third party) or is in the public interest.
Fitness to practise cases which are focused on the health of the nurse, midwife or nursing associate concerned will be held in private, due to the confidential nature of these cases.
This applies whether a hearing is being held virtually, or physically at a hearings centre.
A McKenzie friend is a person who can assist someone involved in a lawsuit in a court of law in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland by prompting, taking notes, and quietly giving advice. They don't need to be legally trained or have professional legal qualifications.
Unlike Court jurisdictions, the NMC doesn't formally recognise McKenzie Friends in its regulatory proceedings because we’re not a Court service where the term and role of a McKenzie friend originated. Our tribunal setup has its own Order, Rules and Practices and as a result, practices in Court can influence what we do, but we don’t have to mirror them.
But we do take a similar approach to the Civil and Family Courts regarding supporters who aren't representing nurses, midwives and nursing associates. This means we recognise that nurses, midwives and nursing associates involved in our hearings may wish to have someone to support them who won't be representing or advocating for them.
This person can provide moral support and take notes but not act as the nurse, midwife or nursing associate's representative. For example, they wouldn't directly address the panel, make submissions, or examine witnesses. The person must provide advance notice of their intention to attend and indicate from the start that they understand the limitations of their role.
We have witness liaison officers who can support nurses, midwives and nursing associates and those giving evidence at hearings, for example by assisting with arrangements needed to give evidence, or by being in the room with the witness while they give evidence.
These are cases that started at an earlier date, were adjourned and will resume at a later date. You are welcome to attend a resuming hearing, subject to capacity constraints.
Nursing, midwifery and nursing associate cases
The procedure for nursing, midwifery and nursing associate cases is essentially identical. The difference is in the content.
Our expectations of everyone involved in a hearing
We ask that all participants attending a hearing follow our values of being fair, kind, collaborative and ambitious. Read more about the expectations we have of everyone attending a hearing.