Dealing with cases at hearings or meetings

Reference: HEA-11

Last Updated 31/08/2018

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Hearings

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When we hold panel hearings

Fitness to practise cases

We’ll only arrange for a case to be heard at a hearing if a nurse or midwife has asked for one, or if we think there is a ‘material dispute’.

A material dispute is a disagreement between us and the nurse or midwife about an important issue in the case.

How we decide whether there is a material dispute

We review the correspondence between us and the nurse or midwife to see if they disagree with any important issues in the case. 

If the panel can point to new information or information that we haven’t considered, which would have made a difference to our initial decision to arrange for the case to be heard at a meeting, a panel may decide it would be better to deal with a case at a hearing.

Sometimes an employer may interview a nurse or midwife about a concern before sending the matter to us to consider. In that interview with their employer a registrant may disagree with the details of what the employer said took place.

This information on its own is not a reason for us to hold a hearing instead of a meeting, because we may have different concerns to the employer, or the registrant may not have been touch with us.

Interim order hearings 

We’ll always hold the first interim order application at a hearing and give the nurse or midwife the opportunity to attend. We also hold a hearing if the nurse or midwife would like their interim order to be reviewed at a hearing.

Substantive order review hearings

A panel can order that a review should take place at a hearing. However, this will only be appropriate if the nurse or midwife is in contact with us and there is an issue that can only be solved by holding a hearing. 

Restoration

We’ll usually arrange for restoration cases to be heard at a hearing, as the person applying for restoration will likely have to attend and present evidence to the panel in person.

How we hold a hearing

Hearings are held in public unless there is a good reason such as a nurse or midwife's health which means it must be heard in private.

An independent legal assessor will be there to advise the panel. The nurse or midwife can attend, with or without a representative, or they can send a representative to attend on their behalf. A case presenter will attend to represent us.

Both the nurse or midwife, and the case presenter can arrange for witnesses to come to the hearing and give their evidence in person to the panel. Both parties can question witnesses and make submissions. The panel members can also ask questions of witnesses.

See our public and private guidance for more detail on when a hearing can be held in private

Meetings

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When we hold panel meetings

Fitness to practise cases

Once the case examiners have sent a case to be dealt with by a committee, we’ll write to the nurse or midwife and give them 28 days to tell us if they would like their case to be dealt with at a hearing or a meeting.

If the nurse or midwife requests a meeting, or doesn’t tell us what they would prefer, or has no contact with us, we’ll arrange for the case to be heard at a meeting.

Even if the matters are complicated or very serious, because the panels who consider cases are experienced professionals they can deal with these kinds of cases on the papers. Their decisions and the reasons for them will be made public.

Interim orders review meeting

Following an application for an interim order, all further reviews will be heard at meeting unless a nurse or midwife asks for a hearing.

Substantive order reviews

A panel of the FtP Committee will review a substantive order at a meeting, unless a registrant has asked to attend the review. This includes applications to review striking-off orders because new evidence has become available.

How we hold panel meetings

Meetings are held in private. The panel will be present as will the independent legal assessor. The nurse or midwife doesn’t attend and members of the press and public don’t attend. 

We do not send a case presenter to explain our case to the panel, and the nurse or midwife can’t send a representative.

The committee has power to take if action if it needs to but there is no need to hear live evidence or submissions. Instead a panel of the committee can make its decision by looking at the evidence and relevant exhibits, and our statement of case. 

The panel will also consider any submissions, evidence or exhibits the nurse or midwife has sent in and asked for the panel to see.

Making decisions public

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Whenever a panel decides a nurse or midwife's fitness to practise is impaired and passes a sanction, we publish the details of the sanction, and the panel's reasons. We do this whether the panel made the decision at a hearing or at a meeting.

We don't publish what the outcome is if the panel decides that the nurse or midwife's fitness to practise isn't impaired, unless the nurse or midwife asks us to.

We keep some information private, like details of health conditions, or other confidential material.

For more details on this, see our FtP Publication guidance.

1 Rule 10(1) of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004 ('the Rules')