This member has kindly written about their experience of the Nursing and Midwifery Fitness to Practice process. She candidly talks about how at the beginning of the process she was in no place to present herself as she was in the final hearing. Being able to detach from the anger of being referred played a big part, but also to be in a different place with employment and have less riding on the outcome may have also assisted.
It is no doubt that the culture of the NMC is changing and they have worked hard to ensure their teams, including case presenters, have a more person-centred approach and less adversarial. This is what she says:
“In 2018 I found writing reflection really difficult because I was still angry that in 2016 my employer had allowed me to take the wrap for failing IT record systems which I’d raised as a concern for four years and despite an out-of-court settlement in 2017 with me for unfair dismissal they still referred me to the NMC.
In all honesty, I couldn’t get my head around how the NMC could even validate that referral or consider the referee as a valid witness. I had COPs but these were for administration, not clinical errors, and employers felt it required too much of their time to check a nurse’s records in a busy environment. I had nursed for 19 years without error or omission and also served in the police force for 6, again without incident and with a positive reference.
My failure to address those COPs as I could not secure a nursing role and still had bills to pay hence looked to other work and the fact I did not attend my initial review due to a bereavement, resulted in my being suspended for 6 months. Since 2016 I have worked in a non-nursing role based in E-commerce using IT daily and am now a registered Data protection officer with the ICO.
This week I attended an early review of the suspension. In opening, the NMC case presenter seemed really intent on showing my ex-employer’s failures in the context of the matter and my witnesses’ statements which supported my version of the matter. It really shocked me, she never once made reference to me in a negative way and in fact gave me a number of points of credit. This was such a different experience from my substantive hearing where I felt the case presenter was awful.
We explained the inability to secure work and you could see the panel’s distress that I’d been suspended for not attending the initial review due to a bereavement. They didn’t seem at all happy about that move by the previous panel.
All in all, we proved that regardless of not nursing since 2016 my record keeping is sound from the work I currently do and in fact the advanced level of knowledge I have from my current work. The point I REALLY WANT TO MAKE IS, I accepted that even though many of the things leading to my referral were out of my control there were undoubtedly things I could have done to change that and should have done in the interest of public safety and under my accountability as a nurse in line with the code.
I said that I should have formally escalated my concerns outside of the organisation to the CQC and or ICO under the whistle-blowing policy with my union but the panel also accepted that takes some bravery to do and fear of repercussions prevented me doing so. You could see the registered panellist nodding her head as I spoke about that and smiling. In any event, I could see that I COULD have dealt with things differently.
I want you all to understand that you can accept responsibility without taking the blame just by saying and accepting what you could have done, I couldn’t see that at my first hearing. We all play a part in outcomes regardless of activity or by being complicit. For me, it was the latter and I have no issue accepting that.
Insight is about seeing the bigger picture not pointing fingers to blame others or even taking all the blame yourself, It is regrettable my ex-employers couldn’t see that a failure of this nature was not down to one person but all parties concerned. Regardless of that, you must always look at what could you have done to change the situation even if it meant repercussions to yourself from said employer.
My panel were absolutely lovely this week. They took a genuine interest and enquired in a helpful way. I’m pleased to say they felt regardless of my not working in nursing I have demonstrated that I am safe and removed all conditions with immediate effect. When I thanked them they even thanked me back
I am now unrestricted and free to practice. I may not nurse again as in all honesty my success away from the profession has been amazing as a now director of two successful companies, but clearing my name whilst showing my ex-employers part and treatment of me was really cathartic for me.
In summary, don’t give up hope but accept responsibility we could all have changed some part of the circumstances which brought us before the panel. Ultimately the NMC just want to know you are not a risk to public safety and only YOU can prove that by showing that you understand and that you have learnt.
This group was integral in assisting me with this. Use us as a knowledge resource from our own experience to improve your own outcome and put aside any anger you have to be clear in your thoughts.”
This member’s experience is really encouraging that the culture is changing.
However, we only have to look at recent cases that have successfully appealed in the High Court and those that are currently appealing to see that the panel’s methodology on decision-making is varied and not consistent.
- The length of time from referral to outcome is still unacceptable.
- Cost of hearings – paid for by registrants’ annual fees – is astronomical
- Careers are lost regardless of the panel outcome
- Lives are lost from the impact of investigations.
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