A midwife has successfully appealed against a decision to strike her off the register on the grounds that the Nursing and Midwifery Council did not have the legal power to do so.
Patricia Annon originally appeared before the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee in April 2010 and was made the subject of a conditions of practise order. That order was reviewed in January 2013 and on that occasion the Panel made the decision to strike Miss Annon’s name from the register.
Miss Annon lodged an appeal with the High Court earlier this year. Miss Annon sought to pursue a number of lines of appeal, one of which was that the Panel of the Conduct and Competence committee did not have the jurisdiction to impose a striking-off order. The case was due to be heard in the High Court on 8th November 2013 however it was agreed by consent order that the appeal would be allowed.
Miss Annon’s case follows comments made by Mr. Justice Leggat in the widely publicised case of Okeke v Nursing and Midwifery Council which was heard in February 2013. Leggat J questioned whether the NMC could ever make a striking-off order solely on the basis of a lack of competence. When a Panel of the Conduct and Competence committee reviews a sanction under article 30 of the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001, it has the power to make any order “which it could have made at the time it made the order being reviewed.” Article 29(6) of the Order precludes striking-off orders on competence grounds unless a registrant has been continuously suspended or subject to conditional registration for a period of 2 years. At the time of Miss Annon’s hearing in 2010 she had not been continuously suspended or subject to conditions of practise for a period 2 years. As such it was agreed by consent order that the Panel who reviewed the order in January 2013 did not have the power to impose a striking-off order.
The decision to strike Miss Annon from the register has been quashed and her case will now be re-heard by a fresh Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee in early 2014.
Miss Annon was represented by Carl Johnson, Associate Solicitor at Stephensons Solicitors LLP and David Bennett and David Pittaway QC of Hailsham Chambers.