Investigating health concerns

Reference: INV-2

Last Updated 28/07/2017

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If the regulatory concern relates to the health of a nurse or midwife our enquiries will need to carefully balance our duty to protect the public with the nurse or midwife’s right to privacy. Before undertaking any investigation into a nurse of midwife’s health we will have identified a risk or potential risk to the public as part of our screening decision, which will involve us assessing how serious the health concerns appear to be.

Usually, if the regulatory concern relates to the health of a nurse or midwife, we will require information from the nurse or midwife’s GP, occupational health professional and/or treating specialist. Depending on the type or nature of the health condition we may also invite the nurse or midwife to undergo a medical examination and/or medical testing. In both instances we will request the consent of the nurse or midwife concerned.

The Fitness to Practise Committee may take into account any refusal by the nurse or midwife to undergo a medical examination when deciding whether their fitness to practise is impaired.

Often referrals that give rise to a concern about a nurse or midwife’s health are the result of a specific incident or series of incidents that may also, on their own amount to a regulatory concern. For example, a nurse or midwife who attends for duty while unfit due to alcohol consumption and has a dependency on alcohol. In these circumstances it is necessary for us to explore both the background health condition itself and any relevant incidents to make sure we have a clear picture of exactly what occurred, how serious it was and whether there is a causal link between the health and the incidents. This enables us to progress the case in a way which best addresses the root cause of the problem and make sure the public interest is properly considered when making decisions on the case.