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Virtual fitness to practise hearings will continue beyond COVID-19, says NMC

RCN pledges to work with regulators to ensure virtual hearings maintain fairness
Woman on a laptop for a conference call

RCN pledges to work with regulators to ensure virtual hearings maintain fairness

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is to continue to use virtual fitness to practice (FtP) hearings beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

RCN will work with NMC to ensure virtual hearings remain fair

While two thirds of respondents told a public consultation they backed the move , concerns have been raised by unions that members of the public may be able to record hearings and share them on social media.

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RCN pledges to work with regulators to ensure virtual hearings maintain fairness

Woman on a laptop for a conference call
Picture: iStock

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is to continue to use virtual fitness to practice (FtP) hearings beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

RCN will work with NMC to ensure virtual hearings remain fair

While two thirds of respondents told a public consultation they backed the move, concerns have been raised by unions that members of the public may be able to record hearings and share them on social media.

Video and audio hearings were introduced as one of a raft of emergency measures during the first wave, and their continued use was approved at an NMC council meeting on 24 March.

The consultation, which attracted 160 responses, found 71% supported the continued use of virtual hearings.

RCN associate director of nursing Yinglen Butt said: ‘We do have some continuing concerns about the fairness of public access and the choice of format to suit each individual in the plans for managing virtual FtP hearings.

‘We will work with the NMC to keep these aspects under review as experience of virtual hearings grows.’

Other emergency measures set to remain

But the NMC said public access would be limited to audio only, and they must provide their details beforehand.

Whether a hearing is held virtually will depend on the complexity of the case, the views of the registrant and whether they are able to fully participate in a virtual setting.

Other emergency powers to be extended past the pandemic include extended revalidation deadlines in some exceptional circumstances, reducing the number of required FtP panel members to two, and waiving the requirement that one panel members must be a registrant.


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