On 28th July 2017 changes to the fitness to practise processes came into force which, it is hoped, will enable the NMC to become a more efficient and proportionate regulator. It is anticipated the changes will modernise the NMC processes and reflect those adopted by the GMC in 2003.
The changes will give the NMC new powers to resolve cases more quickly and appropriately, ensuring that only the most serious matters progress to a full committee hearing. The changes include allowing case examiners to advise, issue warnings and recommend undertakings (such as agreeing additional training to address areas of weakness). The power to review these case examiner decisions has also been expanded to incorporate these changes.
Further, the Conduct and Competence Committee and Health Committee have now merged into a single Fitness to Practise Committee to avoid the associated delays created by the existence of both committees.
In addition, practise committee panels will now state whether a substantive order review is necessary when a conditions of practise or suspension order is imposed, to avoid unnecessary hearings and associated costs. A review hearing will not be necessary where the registrant’s practise does not present a current risk of harm to the public, but the imposition of an order is necessary to uphold standards of professional conduct or public confidence in the profession.
As specialists dealing with NMC matters on a daily basis, our team hope that these changes will bring about a more inclusive and co-operative process, in which the registrant feels more able to positively affect the course of the investigation through active engagement and focused remediation. Similar to the GMC approach, it is anticipated that the changes will also positively affect the professionals involved who presently feel disenchanted by a long and drawn out fitness to practise investigation which concludes in an inevitable and often stressful panel hearing.
If you do require assistance in dealing with a referral to the NMC our dedicated team are on hand to assist you. Call us on 0175 321 6399.