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Nurses 'unfit to practice' can step down

Nurses who admit they are unfit to practice will be able to voluntarily remove their name from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NCM) register. 

Following fitness to practice proceedings, a nurse or midwife who does not intend to continue practicing can choose to be removed without a full hearing.  

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) said: “We are pleased to see the introduction of voluntary removal. 

“This should offer a quicker process and is a better use of NMC resources for cases which clearly do not need to go to tribunal.”

Voluntary removal will only be allowed when there is no public interest in holding a full hearing and a nurse or midwife's removal best for the patient, the NMC has said. 

An NMC spokesperson said: “When it comes to a clerical issues such as record keeping, it is less likely to be in the public interest than a matter relating to direct patient care. 

“However, decisions will be made on a case by case basis and the complainants view will be taken into account.

If an application is allowed, 'voluntarily removed' will appear next to the nurse or midwife's name on the NMC website. 

Earlier in January, Nursing in Practice reported that the NMC will now display the names of those removed from the register for sixty years, to improve transparency. 

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar said: “Voluntary removal supports our core purpose of protecting the public, and cannot be used as an 'easy way out' for nurses and midwives who wish to avoid a full public hearing.

“In deciding whether voluntary removal should be approved, we will consider the public interest, the interests of the nurse or midwife and the views of the person who made the allegation about the nurse or midwife and brought them to the NMC's attention.”

As part of fitness to practice efficiency improvements, nurses and midwives who admit to minor charges will be able to agree a sanction, like suspension, with the NCM. 

Jackie Smith said: “This process will encourage nurses and midwives whose fitness to practice is impaired to acknowledge this at an early stage. 

“This will reduce the need for witnesses to attend hearings and reduce the length of hearings, enabling us to concentrate our resources on cases where there are significant matters in dispute.”

Dr Peter Carter said: “Voluntary removal in addition to the introduction of consensual panel determinations will provide more flexibility and allow the NMC to give greater attention to their most serious cases.

“We hope these changes will allow certain cases, where there is no public interest in a full tribunal, to be resolved more quickly.”