How we determine seriousness

Reference: FTP-3

Last Updated 14/04/2021

What we mean by seriousness

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Seriousness is an important concept which informs various stages of our regulatory processes. 

When assessing whether a concern is serious, we look at what risks are likely to arise if the nurse, midwife or nursing associate doesn’t address or put this concern right. This could be risks to patients or service users or, in some cases, to the public's confidence in all nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

When considering seriousness, we will take into account evidence of any relevant contextual factors. For more information please see our guidance on taking account of context.

It's vitally important that we encourage nurses, midwives or nursing associates to try to put problems right where they can, because we want to promote a learning culture that keeps patients and members of the public safe.

By focusing on how risks could arise if concerns aren’t put right, we can see what the nurse, midwife or nursing associate may need to do to address the problems in their practice, or what action we may need to take if they don't.

When our decision makers are looking at overall fitness to practise, they’ll always consider what the nurse, midwife or nursing associate has done to address the concerns.

The guidance below helps us assess the seriousness of concerns by looking at how easy they are to put right, what could happen if they aren’t, and what the role of public confidence and professional standards is.

Factors that indicate the seriousness of a case

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Decision makers across our fitness to practise process look at factors of a case to identify the types of concern which, unless put right, will usually mean a nurse, midwife or nursing associate’s right to practise needs to be restricted.

These factors indicate the seriousness of the case and we use these as a framework for the way we investigate cases and present cases before panels of the Fitness to Practise Committee.

The factors can be broken down into three broad categories:

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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