If this has happened to you, you will no doubt be feeling bewildered and devastated at what may be the loss of your career in nursing. You may not know where to turn or what to do. Look no further than Burton Copeland solicitors, where our specialist team is waiting to assist you.
The first thing we will do is consider whether or not the Conduct and Competence committee sanction has been made immediate.
If no immediate order has been made then you will be allowed to continue to practise nursing until the 28 day appeal period has passed. Once this date arrives, however, you will no longer be able to practise unless you have lodged an appeal within this time period.
If, on the other hand, the Conduct and Competence Committee made an immediate order (which is likely to be the case where a nurse’s name is to be erased from the nursing register as this is the most serious sanction) and you decide to appeal within the 28 day deadline, then you will remain unable to practise during the appeal period.
The 28 day time period begins the day after the date of the letter informing you of the decision of the Conduct and Competence Committee.
If you find yourself in this position, we can assess your case, advise you on the merits or otherwise of an appeal, issue appeal proceedings on your behalf and represent you in Court for the appeal.
All NMC Conduct and Competence Committee appeal hearings are lodged with the Administrative Court which is a division of the High Court of Justice.
As such, these proceedings are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules and specific forms for lodging appeals and supporting documentation will be required to be completed and submitted, including Grounds of Appeal.
In order to appeal you must have Grounds of Appeal. This is a legal term for the reasons why you believe you have the right to appeal and is usually drafted by a solicitor or barrister acting on your behalf as it is a legal document and requires careful consideration of not only the facts of the case but on the procedures adopted by the Conduct and Competence Committee and proportionality of the sanction imposed.
Once the papers have been lodged with the Court within the 28 day deadline, the NMC will be informed, the Court will provide the date of the hearing and both parties will work towards that date, preparing for the hearing.
Once the hearing date arrives, both parties will attend the hearing, usually represented by Counsel to present their respective cases.
You as the appellant Nurse will be the party bringing the claim to court and the NMC will be the responding party.
It is important to note that this is not an opportunity for you to revisit the facts of your particular case. This will be deemed by the Court to have been done by the original NMC Conduct and Competence Committee. The appeal is your opportunity to present the reasons why the decision of the Conduct and Competence Committee was wrong.
The Court has the power to quash the determination of the Conduct and Competence Committee or remit the matter back to be heard again by the Conduct and Competence Committee. We often find that Judges in the High Court take the view that the Conduct and Competence Committees are the ‘experts’ in NMC fitness to practise and so are loathe to completely quash a sanction. As such, there is a high percentage chance that if your appeal is successful, a High Court Judge will remit the matter back to the Conduct and Competence Committee to be heard again.
If you are successful on appeal, the NMC will be ordered to pay your legal costs, or a proportion of them according to the residing Judge’s assessment of said costs.
However, if you are unsuccessful and lose your appeal, you will be ordered to pay the NMC’s legal costs according to the residing Judge’s assessment of said costs.
As such, there are risks in appealing a decision of the Conduct and Competence Committee.
Our specialist team can assist you from the first decision you have to make; whether or not you should actually bring the appeal in the first place, right through to the appeal hearing itself, should you decide to proceed. We will let you know the merits of any appeal from the outset and guide you through the process, ensuring that your best interests are protected throughout.
It is also worth noting that the Professional Standards Authority reviews every decision made by the Conduct and Competence Committee and also has the power to bring appeals against any decisions of the Conduct and Competence Committee where it believes that the decision made was not sufficient for the protection of the public.
You could therefore find yourself the subject of an appeal by the PSA just when you thought the nightmare was over.
If this happens, we can assist you.
If you are a nurse or midwife who finds yourself in any of the situations described above, please do get in touch with the specialist team at Burton Copeland on 0161 827 9500 as soon as possible as we are able to assist you and to potentially save your nursing career.