Deciding what should go before a panel

Reference: HEA-12a

Last Updated 28/07/2017

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The ‘fair and relevant’ test

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The test as to whether information should be used in a hearing is that it is ‘fair and relevant’.1 This means that the hearing bundle should only contain material that is relevant to the charges being considered by the Committee. This will depend on the circumstances of each case. A panel of the Committee will also be provided with advice from the legal assessor as to whether evidence can be admitted.

Once a case has been referred to the Committee we will review the evidence and allegations. A lawyer will consider the evidence obtained and which documents should form the hearing bundle.

Witness statements

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Where we have obtained witness statements, and those witnesses are attending the hearing, we will usually provide the panel with a copy of the witness statement when the witness gives their evidence.

We will also put witness statements before the panel if it has been agreed with the nurse or midwife that this can stand as evidence without the witness having to attend.

The nurse or midwife’s documentation and evidence 

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The bundle that we provide to the panel contains the documents that we are relying on to prove the allegations. It does not contain the nurse or midwife’s evidence or documents. The nurse or midwife, or their representative, will bring their own bundle of documents that they want to rely on for their defence. This is because we do not always know what documents the nurse or midwife wants to rely on for their final hearing. They may have sent in material at earlier stages that they now do not want to rely on, and we do not consider it to be fair for us to make that decision for them.

However, as set out in the notice of hearing, if the nurse or midwife has sent in admissions or responses to the allegations, the panel will be provided with these. The panel can then consider whether the nurse or midwife admits or denies any allegations, and may find allegations proven on the basis of the admissions.

Documents not originally in the hearing bundle

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Sometimes, documents that are not originally included in the hearing bundle become relevant during the course of the hearing. This could be as a result of evidence given by a witness or the nurse or midwife. In these circumstances we will provide the document to the panel.

If the nurse or midwife, or their representative, does not agree on the addition of the document, the panel, after hearing the advice of the legal assessor, will consider whether it is fair and relevant for it to be considered as evidence.

1 Rule 31 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004 (“the Rules”)