Understanding the terms we use

Reference: HEA-1a

Last Updated 28/07/2017

Print

Allegations

Back to top

One of our key statutory functions is to investigate allegations about the fitness to practise of nurses and midwives, or their entry in the register. Fitness to practise allegations involve us alleging that the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired (for one or more of the reasons set out in our legislation).

For this reason, when we first assess, investigate, and when our case examiners consider ‘allegations’, we define ‘allegation’ as meaning simply an allegation to the effect that the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired.

Regulatory concerns

Back to top

During the early stages of a case we draft regulatory concerns to express what appears to have happened in a particular case, and why this set of facts justifies us intervening in the nurse or midwife’s practice.

Charges

Back to top

Under our governing legislation, a charge only comes into existence when we serve a notice of substantive hearing or meeting. Where a Fitness to Practise Committee panel is to consider an allegation at a hearing, our rules2 require the notice of hearing to contain ‘a charge particularising the allegation, which shall set out any alleged facts on which it is based’.

The ‘charge’ is the public statement of the basis on which an allegation of impaired fitness to practise is made. This, in essence, is the allegation that the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct, lack of competence, a conviction or caution, health, not having the necessary knowledge of English or a determination by another health or social care organisation. The charge itself will then include a number of alleged facts, on which the allegation of impaired fitness to practise is based.

So, the meaning of ‘charge’ within our rules is:

  • an assertion that a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired, making specific reference to one of the grounds of impairment from our Order (such as lack of competence), and
  • the schedule of alleged facts which we serve together with a notice of hearing, which ‘particularises’ the allegation of impaired fitness to practise.

Additionally, in everyday language, those participating in Fitness to Practise Committee hearings will often refer to one or more of the individual ‘alleged facts’ within a statement of charge as ‘charge 1’, ‘charge 6(a)(ii)’, and so on.