It is important that our hearings are conducted in a way that maintains the public confidence in us as a regulator.
How the panel manages the case
One of the roles of the panel is to manage the case, the people appearing before it, and to make sure the hearing runs smoothly, by managing when the hearing will be in session and deciding what time people need to attend each day.
Members of the public, including the press, may attend the public parts of a hearing. The panel will need to maintain the anonymity of certain individuals, such as patients or vulnerable witnesses.
Sometimes a witness entitled to anonymity may prefer to be referred to by name, or a witness may wish to refer to a patient or vulnerable witness by name or their relationship to them (for example, saying “my sister”). The panel should facilitate witnesses to give their best evidence and consider whether directions are needed to avoid the identity of individuals entitled to anonymity from being revealed in public. Such directions may include:
- making an order1 to prevent information that identifies an individual from being shared outside the hearing room
- hearing a witness’ evidence in private; holding the hearing in private is usually only likely to be necessary in extreme cases such as where there is a serious risk of the identity of an individual being revealed when it shouldn’t be.
What the panel does as it hears the evidence
The panel can question the witness on their evidence and considers what questions to ask the witness, in order to clarify their evidence and help decide whether the charges are proved.
If a new issue comes up after the witness has finished giving their evidence, the panel should think very carefully about whether the witness needs to be called back to give further evidence, or whether the panel can explore the issue with those who remain in session, other witnesses who haven’t yet given evidence, or by considering the evidence they have already heard.
If the panel considers that we may need to carry out further investigation, it should consider carefully whether to adjourn the hearing to allow us to do this
When making these decisions, the panel should always strike a balance between the nurse, midwife or nursing associate’s right to a fair hearing and our overarching objective of protecting the public in a fair and proportionate manner.
1 Under Rule 22(2) of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004 the panel can, upon the application of the party calling a witness, direct that any details which identify a witness should not be revealed in public.
The guidance in our library, needs to be read alongside our NMC Guidance during the Covid-19 emergency period. We have new rules that are in force during the period of the coronavirus emergency that are relevant to how it applies.
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