NMC to be more flexible when professionals ask to leave the register when concerns raised

Published on 24 April 2023

We’re taking a different approach when nursing and midwifery professionals who are subject to fitness to practise concerns ask to be removed from the register.

‘Agreed removal’ aims to protect the public at the earliest opportunity, while also reducing the impact of being involved in our regulatory processes, which we know can be distressing for people.

What is agreed removal?

When concerns are raised with us about a nurse, midwife or nursing associate, we keep them on the register until we’ve finished investigating and a final decision has been made about their fitness to practise. However, during this time a professional can apply to be removed from our register.

This was previously called voluntary removal and was subject to strict conditions. These included that we must have finished our investigation, and the professional must have accepted all the allegations against them.

We’re removing these particular conditions from our guidance, giving us more flexibility to agree to requests for removal. In every case, we’ll consider carefully whether it’s in the public interest to keep someone on the register so that we can continue with our fitness to practise process – for example where there are very serious concerns, which will always need to be fully investigated and put before an independent panel.

Where we agree to a professional’s request to be removed from the register, the public will be protected because the effect is the same as the most severe sanction we can impose, which is a strike-off. We’ll ask the people who raised the concern with us for their views before we make a decision on any agreed removal.

Lesley Maslen, Executive Director of Professional Regulation, said:

“When very serious concerns are raised about nurses, midwives and nursing associates, it’s important we investigate them fully and allow an independent panel to make findings about what took place. However, there may be times when removing someone from the register at an earlier stage will be the best way to protect the public.

“Our revised approach means our decision makers will now have more flexibility to agree to requests to leave our register during an investigation. As well as protecting the public, this will reduce the impact on everyone involved in our regulatory work, which we know can be distressing for people. We hope this change will also help us reduce the fitness to practise caseload swiftly and fairly, which remains our top priority.”

Additional information:

  • Under the new guidance we will, in suitable cases, be able to consider agreed removal before concluding a full investigation and making a final decision about a professional’s fitness to practise.
  • There will no longer be a requirement that the professional must agree all the facts before agreed removal can be considered.
  • There will no longer be a requirement that the professional must accept that their fitness to practise is impaired before agreed removal can be considered.
  • We are retaining our policy position that agreed removal isn’t suitable where the concerns raised are so serious that they could lead to a ‘striking-off’ decision.
  • Our Rules mean that we must always seek comments from the maker of the referral; we must always take into account the interests of the professional seeking agreed removal and the public interest when making our decisions.

Read our updated removal policy here

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