It took nearly 4 years for new nurse Jo to receive no case to answer despite her full compliance with the process.
Jo was put in touch with us by another of our members who was aware of the incident which led to her referral as a newly qualified nurse. He had worked with her whilst doing placements for his own return to practice course and remembers the issues that arose on the unit.
Jo worked on a mental health unit, where a serious incident occurred – a patient took his own life whilst on the unit. This was an extremely traumatic time for all involved and as a newly qualified nurse the memory of it stayed with Jo’s as she moved to a new unit and waited for the investigation by the NMC.
We mentored her when she came to us and helped her work on producing a series of 10 reflections that looked at all aspects including the impact on the patient’s family. Whilst she denied many of the allegations around any potential fault, she understood fully the required investigation and cooperated. However what she struggled with was the length of time it took to complete despite providing this information quickly and readily.
She was referred in Sept 2019 and in May 2023 she received the final decision – case closed with no case to answer. However this was after frequent requests for updates from the teams by Jo’s advocacy team. Finally we escalated to the stake holding team at NMC as Jo was due to be married soon and needed to prepare herself if the case was going to hearing. Equally she wanted to enjoy her wedding without the fear of a notification coming from NMC to upset her.
Key themes in this case were:
- Fitness to Practice Teams need to move swiftly through the assessment process to avoid unnecessary harm to the nurse or midwife.
- FtP teams need to provide regular feedback and reasoning why investigations are not completing.
- FtP should attempt to, where possible, safeguard the registrant against harm by looking at key life events that are occurring.
- Any case that is taking longer than 15 months to complete should have full disclosure of reasoning as to why it is delayed, e.g. timeline of attempts to gain evidence, blockers, etc.
- For cases that show strong evidence of no current clinical concerns or repetition of behaviour, there should be a high threshold for pursuit of case once no current impairment is established.