by Lyn McCarthy , Anita Puri September-15-2022 in Healthcare Law
The Nurses and Midwives (Fitness to Practice Subcommittee) Rules (the “Rules”), which came into effect in May of this year, serve to substantially change the manner in which Fitness to Practise Inquiries and investigated and heard by NMBI.
These rules (contained in SI 236/2022) focus on the establishment, membership, functions and procedures of the Fitness to Practise Subcommittees of NMBI and are established on foot of NMBI’s powers as conferred on them by Section 13 of the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011.
The rules, made up of four parts, facilitate the establishment of Fitness to Practise subcommittees.
Following the referral of a complaint by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee, the Chairperson of the Fitness to Practise Committee or a member of this committee who is also a member of the Board may establish Fitness to Practise subcommittees to carry out functions of the Fitness of the Practise Committee. These functions will include conducting the hearing of the complaint at Inquiry.
- Membership of Fitness to Practise Subcommittees
Under the rules, the subcommittee shall have three members, with one member acting as Chairperson of the subcommittee. This reflects a reduction from the previous requirement of five members.
In addition, depending on whether the registrant who is the subject of the complaint is a nurse or a midwife, one member of the subcommittee will be of that profession. The other two members shall be persons who are not and have never been registered as a nurse or midwife, reflecting the lay-majority requirement.
The rules provide that the subcommittee may regulate its own procedures when enquiring into a complaint but stipulate that the subcommittee must comply with any written procedures of the Fitness to Practise Committee.
- Impact of New Rules
The significance of the changes brought about by the rules is primarily in respect of the composition and size of the subcommittee. Previously, it was necessary for both a nurse and midwife to be present on the Committee convened for an Inquiry and for the Committee to be comprised of five members.
The changes to the Committee size and structure are reflective of the approaches adopted by various other professional regulators. Further, the emphasis on a registrant member of the subcommittee being of the same profession as the registrant who is the subject of the inquiry is reflective of various other multi- professional regimes, to include the Health and Social Care Professionals Council (“CORU”).
In practical terms, the reduced Committee size is likely to result in Inquiries being convened and resumed more easily and may also result in more expeditious inquiries, as a result of fewer participants being involved in the decision making process.
The Rules can be accessed here.
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About the Authors
Lyn is a partner in the Healthcare team at Hayes solicitors. Lyn advises clinical practitioners and indemnity bodies in respect of the defence of medical negligence claims and also in respect of the defence of professional disciplinary matters before Committees of inquiry.
Anita’s practice covers a range of disciplines, with a particular focus on defending professionals involved in regulatory and disciplinary proceedings. Prior to joining Hayes, Anita worked at an established London firm, defending healthcare professionals in the full spectrum of healthcare litigation including regulatory proceedings, hospital disciplinary investigations, inquests, criminal litigation and clinical negligence claims.