Making a self-referral means telling us about something serious that might affect your ability to fulfil your role safely or without restriction.

If you make a self-referral, we’ll start an investigation to decide whether what you’ve told us amounts to an allegation of impaired fitness to practise.

If you are thinking about making a self-referral, this information will help you understand whether it’s necessary. If you do self-refer, we’ll take your own situation and context into account when we consider your circumstances. We’ll also consider the wider context in which you work. We consider self-referrals in the same way as concerns raised by anyone else.

Read more in depth information about our aims and the principles we consider when making decisions about fitness to practise

Self-referrals explained

When not to self-refer

Minor offences or penalties

You shouldn’t self-refer to us if you have received any of the below:

  • A public transport fine or penalty
  • A civil penalty which is not relevant to your practice, like a County Court Judgement or an award for damages
  • Parking offences or other Penalty Charge Notice contraventions, or a fixed Penalty Notice for a motoring offence.

We’ll assess other motoring or drink driving offences on a case by case basis, but will only take regulatory action if this is closely linked to the nurse, midwife or nursing associate’s professional practice, or it suggests there may be a concern about their health.

You also don’t need to refer yourself to us if you are in a private legal dispute which is not relevant to your practice.

Protected cautions

You don’t need to tell us if you have been given a protected caution. Protected convictions or cautions are convictions or cautions which don’t show up on a criminal record check from either the Disclosure and Barring Service, Disclosure Scotland, or Access NI because they are filtered out during the check process.

Protected cautions are defined differently across the UK. You can find out more about the different criteria below:

Managed health conditions

You don’t need to self-refer health conditions to us if they’re being effectively managed and don’t make you unable to carry out your professional role. This is relevant if you’re living with a condition you’re managing through medication or therapy, or if you’ve been given appropriate support or adjustments to help you carry out your work.

Locally managed concerns

If you’re employed and there’s a concern about your fitness to practise, the employer should act first, unless the risk to patients or the public is so serious that we need to take immediate action.

You don’t need to tell us if you are being investigated locally for a complaint or concern as this is being dealt with by your employer. Please note however that your employer may still make a referral to us as part of this process.

When to self-refer

As you’ve seen from the previous section, you don’t have to tell us every time something goes wrong in your professional or personal life.

Whether you make a self-referral is your decision. However, there are some instances where not telling us may be a breach of the Code and could result in us taking additional regulatory action. Those limited circumstances include:

  • If you've received a caution or been charged with an offence
  • If you've received a conditional discharge about, or have been found guilty of a criminal offence that isn't a protected caution or conviction.
  • If you've been disciplined by another regulatory or licensing organisation. This includes organisations that don't work in health and care.

23.2 / tell both us and any employers as soon as you can about any caution or charge against you, or if you have received a conditional discharge in relation to, or have been found guilty of, a criminal offence (other than a protected caution or conviction).

 23.4 / tell us and your employers at the first reasonable opportunity if you are or have been disciplined by any regulatory or licensing organisation, including those who operate outside of the professional health and care environment.

There are some circumstances where you may choose to self-refer concerns about your practice to us, for example where a change to your health might make you unable to carry out your professional role, for example around health

20.9 / Maintain the level of health you need to carry out your professional role.

If you’re employed, you should tell your employer about any concerns relating to your practice, so that these can be dealt with locally. Apart from in the above situations where you must refer yourself to us, we encourage employers to take action locally before we become involved.

If your employer is already taking action, then you don’t need to self-refer. Our Regulation Advisers and Employer Link Service can provide advice to employers to help support this.

If you’re self-employed or a bank worker and a serious concern cannot be dealt with by an employer, this could also be an appropriate reason to self-refer.

Providing information

If you do refer yourself to us, we encourage you to provide us with as much relevant information and evidence as soon as you can. This helps us make an early decision about whether we need to take any further action.

Any information you refer to us will be treated in line with our information handling guidance and obligations.