From January 2013, a register of all nurses and midwives who have been struck off following Fitness to Practise (FTP) proceedings by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will be published on-line in a move designed to protect patients and the public.
In the past 12 months there has been heavy criticism of a system which has allowed registrants whose fitness to practise may be impaired by reason of misconduct, incompetence or health, to gain alternative employment in the health care sector as health care assistants (HCAs) and health support workers. HCAs often wear uniforms that make them indistinguishable from nurses and have responsibility for patient care but without additional training and with no formal system of regulation whatsoever.
On it's introduction, the register will contain details of all nurses and midwives removed from practice since January 2008 and The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence recommended a five year register should be maintained. However, in September 2012 NMC council members agreed to keep an indefinite register of registrants who have been struck off, giving prospective new employers greater access to the decisions of the NMC's Conduct and Competence Fitness to Practise Committees.
The register will make life even more difficult for nurses and midwives who have been removed from practice as they try to find other uses for their skills and experience to earn an alternative living.
Earlier this year the Government ordered a strategic review of the NMC following concerns over its ability to deal with a backlog of FTP cases, which can take many months and sometimes even years to conclude. These cases cause emotional stress and financial hardship for the registrants involved. While registrants are entitled to legal representation throughout the whole process, those that are suspended from practice during the investigation or proceedings stages of a case often find it difficult to pay for their legal costs, making it harder to challenge allegations against them, present evidence of their own and argue their case.
At Stephensons, our Professional Discipline team offers fixed fees for each stage of the case providing affordability and certainty to registrants involved in these cases. We have a highly experienced and trained team of lawyers who specialise exclusively in defending fitness to practice cases, handling dozens of new cases a month and with experience of cases all the way through to the High Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Free initial advice on any issue concerning your registration as a health care professional, call our helpline on 0845 002 0736.
By partner and head of regulatory law, Sean Joyce