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Fitness to practise hearings to return in NMC’s ‘new normal’

Meeting


The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s governing body will review the regulator’s plans for a gradual change to a ‘new normal’ this Thursday.

Investigations into complaints against nurses were suspended during the Covid-19 emergency period, but the NMC aims to bring back physical fitness to practise hearings from September 2020. Some remote hearings have been carried out over the past three months.

Emergency standards, including allowing nursing and midwifery students to complete the last six months of their degrees as a paid clinical placement, are also expected to end under the proposals.

Although some emergency standards will remain ‘to allow flexibility during the next phase of the pandemic’ and provide a ‘more stable learning environment’, the regulator said.

This would ensure current final year students can complete their courses and become fully registered as they planned.  This includes still allowing universities to carry out distance learning, although there will be a move towards ‘blended’ learning that also includes face-to-face teaching.  

The NMC’s plans, which its governing council will review on Thursday, would also see the deadline extended for higher education institutions to implement the NMC’s new Future Midwife Standard by one year, from September 2021 to September 2022.  

Student placements must also consider public health guidelines and make appropriate risk assessments to ensure the safety of those most at risk, the NMC said.

Emergency standards may be reinstated if there is a second peak of Covid-19 cases, the nursing regulator has made clear.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘As we all move cautiously and collaboratively from pandemic crisis to recovery, the time is right to take steps to help ensure the education and training of the next generation of nursing and midwifery professionals can transition to a new normal.’ 

The NMC said in March it would postpone fitness to practise hearings and schedule no new ones until further notice, coupled with the announcement that nurses will have an additional three months to complete revalidation.