Practical drafting issues

Reference: HEA-1d

Last Updated 28/07/2017

Print

Structure

Back to top

The charge will, wherever possible, follow a chronological order. There may be exceptional cases where a different order provides greater clarity and helps the reader to understand the charge. For example, in a lack of competence case, it may be clearer to group factual assertions by the type of clinical practice, rather than listing events chronologically.

We will aim for a simple structure, avoiding multiple clauses and sub-clauses where we can.

Language

Back to top

We will draft charges in plain English. Where we need to do so and it is appropriate, we will briefly explain any clinical terminology.

Preamble

Back to top

As a general rule, the charge will start with:

“That you, a registered nurse [or registered midwife]…”

Where it is relevant or necessary, the charge may refer to the nurse or midwife’s professional role, or their workplace. For example, where a midwife’s level of experience is relevant to the seriousness of a misconduct charge, the charge might read:

“That you, while employed as a band 6 midwife…”

Another example of where a nurse or midwife’s professional role might be relevant is in a charge of neglect or abuse of vulnerable patients in a care home. The preamble might then read:

“That you, while employed as a manager at Sandythorne Care Home…”

The charge may in some cases specify at the beginning the dates between which the conduct is said to have taken place. For example:

“That you, between 14 February and 30 June 2015…”

Alternatively, where the body of the charge asserts that acts or omissions have taken place on or between specific dates, it will not be necessary to specify any dates in the preamble.

Except in the particular circumstances described above, it is rarely necessary to specify the dates of a nurse or midwife’s employment in a particular place, since it is the dates of the period during which the conduct took place, rather than the dates of employment, which are relevant to the charge.

Charging facts in the alternative

It may be appropriate to plead the alleged facts in the alternative. For example, where the evidence indicates that a nurse or midwife has either not administered medication or has failed to record that they have administered medication, the charge may be drafted to reflect this. For example:

“On 1 January 2016, you failed to administer medication to Patient X or, in the alternative, failed to record that you had administered medication to Patient X.”

In other circumstances, the use of the ‘and/or’ formula may be appropriate because the nurse or midwife could have done one thing or the other, or both. For example:

“On 1 January 2016 you punched and/or slapped Patient A.”

We may also use the and/or where the charge includes an assertion that one or more acts or omissions demonstrate an improper motive on the part of the nurse or midwife. For example:

“On 1 January 2016 you kissed Colleague A.

On 2 January 2015 you put your arm around Colleague A’s shoulder.

Your actions in charge 1 and/or 2 were sexually motivated.”

Schedules

Back to top

Schedules may be used where the charge would otherwise become unduly long, for example, if we are alleging that a nurse or midwife has claimed sick pay while working elsewhere on multiple different occasions, we will include a general factual statement within the main body of the charge, stating that the registrant has claimed sick pay while working elsewhere on one or more of the occasions set out in the schedule.

Where there are so many alleged facts that the charge could be lengthened unnecessarily, we may condense these by the use of a ‘sample charge’. This is to keep the number of factual determinations which the Fitness to Practise Committee needs to make to a minimum, while ensuring the charge captures the seriousness of the allegation. For example, in a lack of competence case, a nurse may have failed to make an adequate record of appointments on hundreds of occasions over a period of years. It may only be necessary to include a proportion of these; the appropriate number will vary from case to case.

Occasionally, it may be necessary for us to include information in the charge which should not be in the public domain. In such cases a separate schedule may be used. This might be appropriate where it is necessary to describe the nurse or midwife’s state of health or in rare cases, to particularise sexually explicit or offensive language.

Anonymity

Back to top

We will always anonymise the identity of individuals such as patients, colleagues, or members of the public in the charge. Standard formats are ‘Patient A’, ‘Resident A’, ‘Colleague A’ and so on. We will draw up an identification key separately from the charge, and we will send this to the nurse or midwife. It will be used by all parties at the hearing.