Once our case examiners make the decision to send a case to the Fitness to Practise Committee our legal team reviews it.
Reviewing the case
Our legal team will consider the regulatory concerns identified by the the case examiners, then draft a charge, which sets out the particular facts in the case.
In some cases, the lawyer will also draft a statement of case, based on the information we hold. This explains our position on the things that have gone wrong, identifies the evidence about the concerns, explains why we say the nurse or midwife is not fit to practise, and what sanction order we think the panel should make. We don’t do this in every case, because we are working to assess how helpful it is in cases where the nurse or midwife hasn’t asked for a hearing, or given us a clear response to the concerns about their fitness to practise.
When we don’t use a statement of case, we recommend to the Committee that a meeting would be the best way to resolve the case, but we don’t provide our fuller, more detailed explanation of our position earlier on in the process.
If we do provide a written statement of our position (which we call an ‘opening’) before the panel considers the case at a final meeting, it will be much later in the process than if we were using a statement of case.
What we send to the nurse or midwife
After our legal review, we'll send the nurse or midwife the draft charge, and our statement of case, if we've drafted one, along with information about:
- which documents we gathered through the investigation that will be used as evidence (called the 'hearing bundle')
- the number of days we expect a hearing to last
- which witnesses we plan to rely on
- how the witnesses’ evidence will be given to the panel
- whether we think the case needs to be joined together with another case.
Opportunities to respond
We give the nurse or midwife this information so that they have the opportunity to respond and tell us if they disagree with any of our decisions.
At this point the nurse or midwife can tell us whether they admit or deny any of the allegations.
They can also tell us of any other information that may help with our decision-making on the case. For example, whether they are currently working or have retired, or if they disagree with the evidence we are presenting about the case, or whether they want to apply for voluntary removal.
Finding the best way forward
We always look at our options to end the case in the way that best protects the public at the earliest opportunity.
Sometimes we may decide we don't need a full hearing, because nobody disagrees about the important issues in the case. When this happens, we’ll usually seek to send the case to a private meeting of the Fitness to Practise Committee.
However, if the nurse or midwife wants a full hearing in their case by the committee they do have a right to it.
Find out more about how we deal with cases at meetings and hearings.
Once we understand whether or not there are clear issues between us and the nurse and midwife, we'll know how lengthy and complex the hearing is likely to be before the case gets to the Fitness to Practise Committee.
For example, if the nurse or midwife admits some of the allegations, we may not need to hear evidence from so many people which will enable us to keep the time, cost and complexity of fitness to practise, and the impact on the people involved in them, to a minimum.
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