Justice Farbey (09.05.19) in the case of the Professional Standards Authority V’s Nursing and Midwifery Council
- A panel of the NMC’s Fitness to Practise Committee determined that the second respondent (who is a mental health nurse regulated by the NMC) should be subject to a caution following disciplinary proceedings that arose from her mental health assessment of a person whom I shall call Patient A. Shortly after that assessment, Patient A was found dead.
- The panel determined that the respondent’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct on the grounds that public confidence in the nursing profession would be undermined in the absence of a finding of impairment. It determined that there was no impairment on public protection grounds. Given the limited basis of its impairment finding, the panel imposed a three-year caution order as opposed to a more serious sanction.
- The registrant accepted all charges and her part in the outcome for the patient.
- The respondent assessed Patient A with another considerably more experienced nurse whom I shall call Registrant C. Her case too was referred to the NMC. The panel heard both cases together. In relation to Registrant C, the panel concluded that her fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her misconduct and imposed a caution order for a period of three years. The PSA lodged an appeal to this court. Both the NMC and Registrant C conceded the appeal. By a consent order dated 26 September 2018, Registrant C’s caution was quashed and a six-month suspension order was substituted.
- Currently, the PSA only take cases to the High Court to challenge the decision-making of the NMC when they feel the outcome of the hearing has been too lenient. They do so because they work on behalf of the public who have no mechanism to appeal. If a case is perceived as too excessive, the registrant has to appeal this themselves or with their legal representative if their union is in agreement – this rarely happens.
- Case remitted to a new FtP panel for review of sanction.