000 days

since the NMC committed to investigate its ‘established procedures’. We’re still watching!

Persecution or protection? Regulation unhinged…

Nov 4, 2022 | Fitness to Practice, Regulation | 0 comments

Most members of our group show incredible resilience and cope with an incredibly stressful process that is far-reaching beyond the outcome at the end of a hearing. However one of our group, in particular, has had challenges put on her that would break many others.

Brenda is a nurse who has now moved to the phase of her life where she is claiming her state pension. The story of her first case can be found here

The case took 4 years to complete and went to a full hearing, despite lots of evidence from the registrant to show the case was unfounded and potentially vexatious. The only witness, who was also the referrer, told the NMC, a year prior to the case coming to a hearing, that she had no intention of attending or taking part any more. And yet the NMC pursued the case and pursued her “just in case” they could get her to engage. When the hearing finally came in front of the panel it had lots of stops and starts which the registrant attended throughout – professional and present. It was even adjourned a final time to give the NMC one last chance to get the witness to engage. They didn’t, and on the final hearing the panel were, at last, able to close the case with no case to action, no evidence on behalf of the NMC and pretty much an apology to the registrant, although masked in “process”. This part of the hearing was held in private and so there can be no transparency to those wanting to find out more. But, suffice it to say, the private hearing notes state only that the NMC did not “under-prosecute” the case. The chair summarised by confirming to the nurse that on no aspect were any of the charges proved and that the case had fallen away. He acknowledged that the case had been one of the most challenging he had experienced and thanked her for constantly being present and acknowledged how difficult it was for her to hear the allegations and have to face them.

As an observer, it is difficult to understand how the public interest or safety is served by this case and why on earth there are no mechanisms in place to ensure that, when these themes are arising, the NMC lawyers and teams are not stopping the case in its tracks. The inability or perhaps the unwillingness for these lawyers to be person-centred is baffling and for sure this would not occur in the High Courts or criminal justice system. So why? Where are the checks and balances to ensure that cases that are being pursued are necessary?

The biggest question of course is what could have happened had Brenda not had representation. A vast number of those in Fitness to Practice cases aren’t represented and do not engage, this invariably results in a poorer outcome for them but is this the right outcome for the public and the profession? Nothing is served by a system that removes experienced and knowledgeable nurses at a time when we have a massive shortfall in our workforce.

At 65 years of age, claiming her state pension she has asked to voluntarily remove herself from the register. The answer is no – why? Because there is another case pending against her. This one is for one incident that occurred 4 years ago whilst working at a nursing home. She worked one shift there, refused to go back as the nursing home had such poor standards and found herself referred on the basis of medication errors all of which she denies. The case was initially set for November – it has now been postponed until April 2023 because the witness (again, like her first case, the only witness is also the referrer) is unavailable on the original dates. Sound familiar?!

Abuse of process is hard to prove.

Registrants are under-resourced to be able to take civil actions.

The NMC has a responsibility to DO NO HARM.

All this nurse wants to do is retire with her record clear.

The NMC say NO!

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