Stage three: Check whether we can obtain credible evidence

Reference: SCR-1c

Last Updated 31/08/2018

Obtaining credible evidence

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Once we’re satisfied that a referral discloses concerns that are sufficiently serious to be treated as an allegation of impaired fitness to practise or of incorrect or fraudulent entry to the register, we’ll consider the supporting evidence.

We assess if there’s enough evidence that's likely to be credible and admissible.

Where allegations are made anonymously by an individual who is the only witness to the alleged events, or where the only direct witness is not willing to cooperate with our investigation, more evidence will be required in order to support the concerns.

We will not be able to continue with an investigation if there's no indication of evidence that is likely to be admissible.

Examples of useful supporting evidence

Useful supporting evidence will usually include:

  • a clear and logical narrative explaining the conduct which is being alleged
  • dates of the incident(s) (including exact time and dates if possible)
  • locations where the incident(s) took place (including name and address of the organisation, and specific wards or departments where possible)
  • details of who was present (including patients, colleagues or any other witnesses)
  • copies of contemporaneous notes and statements of anyone who witnessed the events alleged
  • copies of medical records, MAR charts, prescriptions, which should be provided with the informed consent of the patients concerned if possible, or a clear indication as to why this has not been possible
  • local policies
  • details or documentary records of any admissions made by the nurse, midwife or nursing associate
  • details of other sources of evidence in support of the allegation, where the evidence that can be provided by the referrer is limited.

If the employer hasn't finished their investigation

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If a member of the public makes us aware of the concerns before an employer does, we will speak to them, ask them to tell us what happened, make sure we understand the detail, and use this when we talk to the employer about their ongoing investigation.

Generally, we would not refer the case to our investigations team for a full investigation if the employer has not finished theirs yet.

This is because the employer may not yet have found all the potential evidence or the evidence they have found may not yet be in a form that we need in order to make a confident judgement about the case.

However, we will always assess the seriousness of what appears to have happened to decide whether we need to take action while an employer is carrying out their investigation. For example, we would refer the case for a full investigation if the risk is not being effectively managed by an employer.

We’d also carry out our own investigation if the nurse, midwife or nursing associate presents such an imminent risk to patients that an interim order may be needed to restrict or suspend their practice.

If we do not need to apply for an interim order, we will usually tell whoever first raised the concerns that we do not intend to investigate yet until the employer has finished their investigation. We’ll then ask the employer to make a new referral to us, if they need to, when they finish their investigation.

Where an organisation employing a nurse, midwife or nursing associate is aware of other investigations, such as criminal investigations by the police, these kinds of considerations won’t usually be relevant.

We very strongly encourage employers to engage with us. We aim to work with senior employer stakeholders to improve awareness about our referrals process. Our Employer Link Service1 provides advice for employers on making referrals in a way which best allows us to investigate cases promptly and effectively. Employers who need guidance on referrals should get in touch with the team using the details below.

Employer Link Service can be contacted on and the advice line is (020) 7462 8850.

The guidance in our library, needs to be read alongside our NMC Guidance during the Covid-19 emergency period. We have new rules that are in force during the period of  the coronavirus emergency that are relevant to how it applies.

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