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NMC considers resuming fitness to practise hearings in person from September

Nursing and Midwifery Council reveals that fitness to practise proceedings could soon resume in person and emergency measures introduced during the pandemic could also be changed

Picture shows a fitness to practice hearing at the Nursing and Midwifery Council
A Nursing and Midwifery Council fitness to practice hearing. Picture: Charles Milligan

Fitness to practise (FtP) proceedings could resume in person in September as the UK transitions from crisis to recovery, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) says.

A resumption of face-to-face FtP hearings is among a series of changes the regulator is considering to emergency measures introduced due to the pandemic.

Other proposals would see a more ‘normal’ education of nursing students. The NMC governing council will make a decision on 2 July.

Fitness to practise casework scaled back during pandemic

During the pandemic, FtP casework was scaled back and video links were used to process interim order applications and hold review hearings, while NMC teams continued to log and risk-assess new referrals.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘We’re now able to refocus our attention on some of our core regulatory activities – including the resumption of some substantive fitness to practise hearings in person in the safest possible way.’

Referring to the disruption that COVID-19 had caused across the UK, she thanked nurses and nursing students for an ‘amazing contribution’ in extraordinary circumstances.

Proposal to remove emergency standards for nursing students

‘As we all move cautiously and collaboratively from pandemic crisis to recovery, the time is right to take steps to help ensure the education and training of the next generation of nursing and midwifery professionals can transition to a new normal,’ she said.

Proposed changes include removing emergency standards brought in to allow nursing students to continue with training programmes and support the workforce.

This involved most second- and third-year students finishing this academic year’s study on clinical placements, while first-year nursing students were allowed to spend the whole of their programme in theoretical distance learning.

Distance learning can be replaced with ‘blended’ learning

Under proposed changes to take effect on 30 September:

  • Theoretical distance learning can be replaced with ‘blended’ learning, which allows for both face-to-face and online teaching as appropriate and in line with social distancing rules.
  • Placement allocations must take account of current, relevant public health guidelines and make appropriate risk assessments to ensure the safety of those most at risk, such as black, Asian and minority ethnic students.

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