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Consultation into fitness to practice launched

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has launched a consultation into the fitness to practice process. 

A recently released consultation document reveals plans to give the NMC new powers, which could include the ability to re-open closed fitness to practice cases. 

The proposal also suggests changes to how the registration appeal panel is composed, the ability to request and verify registration information and to introduce case examiners in the process. 

Case examiners would decide whether there is a case to answer when fitness to practice is called into question. At the moment, the NMC makes these decisions through a panel of registrants and lay members. 

The consultation document reads: “One of the key issues with the current approach is that it can be difficult to achieve and demonstrate consistent, quality decision-making among panel members. This is despite regular training and guidance.”

The new system would see a decision made by a pair of case examiners, made of a registrant and a lay member. 

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “The introduction of Case Examiners and the changes to the composition of registration appeal panels would enable us to speed up key processes that impact on registrants.

“These proposals would also allow us to review 'no case to answer decisions' made early on in the fitness to practice process. This change is important to ensure the protection of the public and would bring us in line with other healthcare regulators”.

Nurses, their employers, representative groups and healthcare regulators have been urged to respond by 12 June 2014.