Panel members preside over fitness to practise cases. They are appointed independently of the NMC and play a very significant role in protecting the public, maintaining public confidence in the professions and maintaining proper professional standards and conduct.
Fitness to practise committee panels are made up of nurses or midwives and lay members. Usually there will be three panel members deciding on any given case with at least one lay and one registrant member.
How panels work
Our committee panels make the decisions at fitness to practise hearings about whether a nurse, midwife or nursing associate is fit to practise.
Hearings follow a three stage process:
- Are the facts proven or not?
- Is the fitness to practise of the nurse, midwife or nursing associate currently impaired?
- What sanctions (restrictions) are required to protect the health and wellbeing of the public, maintain public confidence in the professions and uphold proper professional standards?
Panels use the civil standard of proof to decide whether the facts of an allegation are proved. The civil standard is ‘the balance of probabilities’, which means that a panel will consider a fact proved if they find that it is more likely than not to have happened.
When the fitness to practise committee considers what action to take, it will take into account other factors, such as:
- previous disciplinary action taken, and how the nurse, midwife or nursing associate has responded to this
- the level of risk the nurse, midwife or nursing associate poses to the health and wellbeing of the public
- the level of insight and remorse shown by the nurse, midwife or nursing associate
- the availability of training and support
- staffing issues which may have affected performance (such as bullying, victimisation or insufficient staffing levels)
- the public interest, including the maintenance of public confidence in the nursing, midwifery and nursing associate professions and the NMC as a regulator as well as declaring and uoholding proper standards of conduct and performance.