This month’s case study presents an example of how charges amounting to misconduct led to a nurse’s fitness to practise being considered by the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s panel
While applying for a band 5 staff nurse role at a foundation trust, Nurse A indicated that she did not have conditions or undertakings made on her registration.
Her actions were dishonest in that she knew this not to be true and sought to conceal the fact that she was subject to conditions of practice by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
In late 2015 Nurse A received a six-month conditions of practice order by a Conduct and Competence Committee of the NMC. Later that year she submitted an online application for the position
of staff nurse at a London hospital. On her application, Nurse A deliberately concealed that she was subject to conditions of practice by the NMC for a previous misdemeanour.
At the hearing
At the start of this hearing, following the reading of the charges, Nurse A admitted the facts alleged in charges 1. The panel therefore found charges 1 proved by way of admission. The panel went on to consider charge 2.
The panel found the evidence of Nurse A to be evasive. The panel considered the oral evidence of Ms 1, a manager at the trust. When she received Nurse A’s application, she was not aware she was subject to a conditions of practice order.
It was at this point that she subsequently checked Nurse A’s NMC registration online and found that she had attended an NMC hearing and had a six-month conditions of practice order imposed on her registration.
Ms 1 told the panel that had Nurse A disclosed she was subject to a conditions of practice order, the trust could have made an informed decision regarding her application. The conditions could have been discussed with Nurse A, and if she was successful in being offered employment, the trust would have developed an action plan to make sure she had the support needed to enable her to practice safely.
Ms 1 said that when she realised Nurse A had not disclosed the conditions of practice on her application form, she made the decision to withdraw her application.
The panel considered that Nurse A had sought to conceal the conditions of practice order. As such, the panel concluded that Nurse A’s actions in relation to charge 1 were dishonest and charge 2 was therefore found proved.
When determining whether the facts found proved amount to misconduct the panel considered the terms of the NMC’s Code. The panel considered that Nurse A’s actions fell significantly short of the conduct and standards expected of a registered nurse. It determined that her actions were serious enough to amount to misconduct.
The panel next went on to decide if, as a result of this misconduct, Nurse A’s fitness to practise was currently impaired.
The panel had regard to the fact that patients and the public place trust in the nursing profession, and that nurses are expected to act in a way that justifies that trust.
The panel also considered its findings of fact and the matters set out above. They concluded that Nurse A’s misconduct had in the past brought the profession into disrepute, as well as breached fundamental tenets of the nursing profession as set out in the preamble to the Code. Nurse A’s actions had also been dishonest.
Results of the fitness-to-practise panel
The ftp panel can impose four different sanctions:
- Not impaired: the panel finds that the registrant’s fitness to practise is not impaired; therefore they can continue to practise
- Conditions of practice: this will prevent a registrant from carrying out certain types of work or working in a particular setting, it may require them to attend occupational health or do retraining. The order can be applied for up to three years and must be reviewed by an FTP panel again before expiry
- Caution: the nurse or midwife is cautioned for their behaviour, but is allowed to practise without restriction
- Suspensions: the nurse or midwife will be suspended from practice for a period of initially not longer than one year, but this can be extended after review by an FTP panel
- Striking off: a nurse or midwife is removed from the register and not allowed to practise in the UK. The nurse or midwife must apply to be readmitted to the register