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Fitness to practise: NMC launches plan to help nurses resolve cases before hearings

Regulator’s ruling body agrees proposal to overhaul how it deals with complaints about nurses and midwives in a bid to settle disputes quickly and move away from ‘adversarial, cumbersome and distressing’ process

Regulator’s ruling body agrees proposal to overhaul how it deals with complaints about nurses and midwives in a bid to settle disputes quickly and move away from ‘adversarial, cumbersome and distressing’ process


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The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has launched a consultation on plans that could see nurses avoid fitness to practise hearings by disclosing errors early.

Last month the regulator's ruling body agreed a proposal to overhaul the way it deals with complaints about nurses and midwives.

It is now asking for the public and profession’s opinion on its plan, called Ensuring Patient Safety, Enabling Professionalism.

The NMC hopes it will encourage nurses to speak up at the earliest opportunity when things go wrong and see the new fitness to practise process as an opportunity to learn and reflect.

‘Learn from their mistakes’

NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said: ‘Where nurses and midwives speak up early and learn from their mistakes we want to see fewer hearings, and cases resolved much more quickly.

‘We want to move away from a process which is often adversarial, cumbersome and distressing to one which supports a learning culture where nurses and midwives can be open about what happened.

‘Our proposals aren’t about excluding anyone. Rather, we want to reduce the impact on all those involved whilst putting patient safety at the heart of what we do.’

The NMC said the proposed approach puts more emphasis on employers resolving disputes quickly, with the professional regulator only becoming involved if an internal investigation concludes it needs to.

Review welcomed

The RCN has welcomed the review, but said it will be looking at the details carefully,

RCN head of legal services Rosalind Hooper said: ‘The college welcomes this consultation and agrees with the NMC that fitness to practise should be a faster and more transparent process for nursing staff.  

‘The nursing profession needs a system that encourages whistle-blowing and candour, while balancing the need to protect the public alongside supporting nurses and midwives to address concerns about their practice.’

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