Attending a hearing
Find out what's involved and why your role as a witness is so important.
We understand that being called to be a witness can be nerve-wracking and we will only ask to you act as a witness and attend a hearing if we believe your involvement is necessary to the case.
Even though you may not think that you know anything important, the person investigating the case will have studied all the evidence, and decided they need to hear more from you to find out what happened. They may also need any relevant documents you might have.
Your evidence will help ensure that our hearing is thorough and fair.
What you should know before the hearing
When will the hearing take place?
We'll be in touch with you to find out when you're available to attend the hearing. We'll always try to arrange the hearing at the earliest opportunity - giving you as much notice as possible - at a time that is convenient to everyone, if possible.
Where will the hearing be?
Most hearings take place in London, Belfast, Cardiff or Edinburgh. We may, at times, hold hearings in other locations if needed.
Our hearings centres are all accessible for wheelchair users and we have a hearing loop system at all sites.
Will my travel costs be covered?
Yes. We'll be in contact in good time before the hearing to book your travel to and from the venue, and your accommodation.
In the vast majority of cases, you will be able to claim back out of pocket expenses and lost earnings if you were meant to be at work on the day of the hearing.
If you are asked to attend for more than one day, we'll book a hotel for you near the hearing centre.
If you need extra help
We are committed to making adjustments (known as reasonable adjustments) so that everyone can participate in hearings.
Please let us know if you have a disability or any other needs,and we will do our best to put the necessary adjustments in place for you.
Can I bring someone with me?
Yes. You can bring someone along with you for support and they can wait with you in the witness waiting room. They can come into the hearing room with you while you give your evidence, but they can’t participate in the hearing.
We don’t normally pay expenses for someone attending as a support, but please talk to us about any support you may need.
We can help with childcare costs so please discuss this with us.
We can’t look after children while you are giving your evidence, even for a short period, so you shouldn’t bring them to the hearings centre.
If you do need to bring your children with you, please bring another adult to look after them while you are giving evidence. We can only agree to pay for the person you bring with you in exceptional circumstances (for example, if you need to bring your baby with you as you are breastfeeding).
The day of the hearing
Where should I go?
Go to the reception to let us know you've arrived. The receptionist can answer any questions you may have. They will then direct you to the witness room. The case presenter, witness liaison officer and panel secretary will come and introduce themselves to you. If the hearing is already underway the case presenter and panel secretary will greet you when they are next available.
It's understandable to feel anxious about meeting the nurse or midwife or other people who are attending the hearing. While we can't gurarantee you won't meet them, we will try to make arrangements to prevent this from happening.
If you would like to know for sure whether the nurse or midwife is attending, please check with the witness liaison officer, case presenter or panel secretary at the start of the day.
How long will the hearing take?
This varies from case to case. When you attend you will be greeted by the case presenter and panel secretary who should be able to give you a better idea.
There may be times when the panel needs to adjourn or have a break for specific reasons but you will be kept up to date throughout your time with us.
We try to ensure that you finish your evidence on the day or days that you have been asked to attend.
- If this is not possible and the case is due to continue the next day, we may ask you to come back in which case we will arrange your accommodation and will rearrange your travel.
If you have not finished giving your evidence by the final day of the hearing, we may ask you to come back on new hearing dates. We'll contact you to arrange the new dates and your travel and accommodation.
Who will be at the hearing?
A hearing is a formal process where three panel members who are independent of the NMC make a decision about the case.
At least one member of the panel will be a nurse or a midwife, and at least one member will be from outside the profession. The panel's chair is responsible for the hearing and will ensure it's conducted fairly.
You might also meet:
- Legal assessor
The legal assessor is an independent and experienced lawyer who advises the panel on the law.
- Case presenter
The case presenter sits opposite the panel. They present the case against the nurse or midwife on behalf of the NMC. They call the witnesses for the case.
- Nurse or midwife
The nurse or midwife facing the allegations may attend the hearing.
- Panel secretary
The panel secretary is a member of NMC staff. They help the panel run the hearing and draft the decision. The panel secretary keeps people updated throughout the day.
Members of the public and members of the press can attend and observe. Sometime the panel will decide that the hearing should be held in private, for example, if sensitive or confidential information is being discussed. If this happens, observers will be asked to leave while these matters are being discussed.