000 days

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

Virtual versus In-Person hearings

Mar 22, 2021 | Fitness to Practice, Press

The Nursing Times examines whether the NMC’s plans to continue with virtual hearings post-pandemic is a good step. The article debates the whole issue with both NMCWatch giving viewpoints as well as the unions.

Cathryn Watters, founder of NMCWatch: Registrant Care, which supports nurses and midwives who are going through the FtP process, said the continuation of virtual hearings was a “very positive move forward”.

“Appearing virtually for a nurse or midwife in the comfort of their own home, with relatives and loved ones nearby should they need them is a lot less stressful for them,” she told Nursing Times.

In addition, Ms Watters noted the benefit of registrants not having to travel.

She said the group felt that staff were “more likely to attend the hearing if they do not have to travel great distances to do so”.

“Many can not afford to do so nor afford to stay away from home whilst the hearing takes place,” added Ms Watters, who is a registered nurse.

“It will also hopefully mean that costs of hearings can be reduced.”

At first, the group had been concerned about how virtual hearings could impact “fairness, especially around cross-examining of witnesses”.

“Appearing virtually for a nurse or midwife in the comfort of their own home, with relatives and loved ones nearby should they need them is a lot less stressful for them”

Cathryn Watters

“However, we have been reassured on ones we have observed, that it is less stressful for witnesses having that virtual distance between them and the lawyer,” she told Nursing Times.

Ms Watters also stressed the importance of allowing the public to observe hearings, and “not just by audio”.

In addition, there was a need for the NMC to ensure they were “super efficient at agreeing on witness attendance and getting bundles agreed beforehand with both parties”, she said.

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