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Attending a hearing

How you can observe a hearing

Members of the public are usually allowed to observe certain hearings, but in light of the current government measures access to the public is limited. 

You can find out more about our current restrictions by viewing our NMC guidance during the Covid-19 emergency period.

In the meantime, if you would like to observe a hearing please email observer.bookings@nmc-uk.org at least 48 hours in advance.

You can view a schedule of upcoming hearings.

Find out more about attending hearings during the Covid-19 pandemic

What to expect

Hearing times

Our hearings normally start at 09:30 (09:00 for interim order hearings) and finish by around 17:30, but may run later than that. The normal start time may vary for physical hearings, because of the need to stagger start times to manage the flow of people into and around the building.

Observers who have registered in advance and at reception on arrival are free to enter and leave the hearing at any time during the proceedings, provided the case is not in private session. You should check with reception that the hearing you are due to attend is not in private session when you wish to enter it.

Public or private hearings

Hearings are held in public, however, the panel may agree to hold parts of or all of the case in private, to protect the anonymity of an alleged victim, for example, or if confidential medical evidence is shared. In cases where a nurse, midwife or nursing associate’s fitness to practise is alleged to be impaired by reason of health then the entire hearing will be held in private due to the confidential nature of these cases.

This applies whether a hearings is being held virtually, or physically at a hearings centre.

During the hearing

The following people will be in the hearing room:

The panel
There will usually be three panel members present. They are independent of the NMC and completely impartial. At least one member of the panel will be a nurse or midwife. There will also be at least one lay member on the panel. This means they are from outside the profession and not on the NMC register.

The panel also includes a chair person who is an experienced panel member and is responsible for the proceedings.

The chair and the panel members are solely responsible for making the decision.

Legal assessor
The legal assessor is an independent and experienced barrister or solicitor. The legal assessor advises the panel on the law.

Case presenter
The case presenter sits away from the panel. They will act as prosecutor in the case, on behalf of the NMC, and will be calling the witnesses.

Panel secretary
The panel secretary is a member of NMC staff. The panel secretary helps the panel to run the hearing and draft its decision. The panel secretary will be a key contact for you throughout the day.

The nurse, midwife or nursing associate under investigation may be present at the hearing. They may also be accompanied by a representative who will put their case forward on their behalf.

Witnesses can be called by the NMC or by the nurse, midwife or nursing associate under investigation. Witnesses give evidence under oath about what happened.

Shorthand writer
There may be a shorthand writer or logger present throughout the hearing, in both public and private sessions, to record the proceedings.

Resuming hearings

These are cases that started at an earlier date, were adjourned and will resume at a later date. Observers are generally not recommended to attend these, as most issues and evidence have already been heard.  However, our hearings are open to the public and 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 virtually identical. The difference lies in the content matter. Therefore, you will gain a feel for the procedure by attending any NMC case.

Noise and disturbances

Please ensure your phone is turned off and you remain silent during the hearing. Do not distract the panellists or others present at the hearings in any way.

You cannot bring canned drinks or food into the hearing room, however screw-top drinks are allowed.

Recording is not allowed

You cannot digitally record the hearing, whether video or audio, but you may take manual notes if you wish to do so. You can also ask for a transcript of the hearing after it has concluded, but you would generally have to pay for the cost of this.