Detailed information about the charges facing nurses and midwives in fitness to practise cases will no longer be made available to the public ahead of hearings, following a decision taken by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
From today, the NMC will only publish the type of the main allegation that has been made against a registrant – such as “misconduct” – in advance, and this will only be available one week before the start of the hearing.
“We have taken the decision to no longer publish detailed draft charges ahead of the hearing”
Information including the name of the person facing the charge, their PIN, the venue and date of the hearing, country where the allegation took place, and the NMC committee dealing with the case will still be published, but also only a week in advance.
Previously the regulator published this information, plus all charges involved in the case and accompanying details 28 days ahead of the hearing taking place.
The NMC said it will from now on only provide detailed information relating to the case once the charges have been read out in public at the hearing.
However, if a hearing is held in private – a request that was recently made during the case against Pauline Cafferkey, the nurse who survived ebola but was then cleared of all misconduct allegations – the charges would not be available until the case has concluded.
The regulator said it had made the changes “following feedback from our stakeholders and advice from the Information Commissioner”.
The NMC said it would “help to ensure fairness to all parties”, because charges could sometimes change by the time the hearing began.
“These changes will help to ensure fairness to all parties, as charges at pre-hearing stage may be subject to change”
When asked by Nursing Times whether the decision had been taken as a result of the recent high-profile case against Ms Cafferkey, a spokeswoman for the regulator said the changes were “something the NMC had been considering for a little while”.
“As an organisation committed to continuous improvement, we are constantly reviewing our processes,” she said. “Following feedback from our stakeholders and advice from the Information Commissioner, we have taken the decision to no longer publish detailed draft charges ahead of the hearing.
“These changes will help to ensure fairness to all parties, as charges at pre-hearing stage may be subject to change,” added the spokeswoman.
”We will still publish details of each hearing, including the headline charge, a week ahead of the hearing taking place and we will provide a copy of the full charges once they have been confirmed on the day,” she said.