We discussed the process around issuing Undertakings v’s Conditions of Practice at a meeting today (9.6.22) with David Abrahams, Senior Policy Lawyer for Legislation & Policy in his remit for responsibility over the Fitness to Practice Library
As of beginning of May the Fitness to practice guidance for panel has been changed – the key changes are:
- registrants no longer have to accept fault in order to accept undertakings
- registrants no longer have to accept the allegations in order to accept undertakings
The use of undertakings gives case examiners the opportunity to resolve cases, if they deem there is a case to answer, instead of them going to hearing for an Interim conditions of practice order or substantive conditions of practice order to be put in place, which has to be reviewed at hearings every 6months also. Hearings are stressful for both registrant and witnesses, make for a more prolonged process and are costly for both parties. A case examiner can now agree undertakings with the registrant and / or their representative to avoid the need for the case to go to a hearing for a CoP to be determined. It also means that witnesses need not be pulled into cases unless absolutely necessary.
Prior to this change less than 2% of cases were being resolved by undertakings – it is hoped that when reviewing this in 6months times they will see increased numbers and better satisfaction with all involved. It is also predicted that this will ease the backlog of cases and enable those that need to go to hearing to be done so quicker.
Not all regulators have the ability to make this change – HCPC for example can not use undertakings.
David confirmed that with undertakings there is an ability for the nurse or midwife to be actively involved in agreeing them. Whilst they can not affect the areas that are being set undertakings ie the allegation – they can work with the case examiner to put in place an undertaking that is practical in their work scenario. We hope that this will also reduce the numbers of practitioners unable to find work whilst under a CoP as it currently stands.
There is a bank of undertakings which the case examiners can draw on – some of these are standard but some can be flexed to suit your individual case needs. Have a look at them and think about which ones can be amended to suit your workplace for example you may not do Medication administration in your role so the undertaking may read ” if medication administration is part of your role…. if it is not then this undertaking is not applicable ” You need to appreciate that the NMC can still have the final say over how the undertaking is worded but are keen to work with you so it fulfils their statutory need but also does not hinder you in gaining employment if at all possible.