Ben Rowe, instructed by Harjinder Saundh of Thompsons Solicitors successfully represented a Registrant in (what was listed as) a week-long Fitness to Practise hearing before the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The Registrant, who was already subject to an existing ‘Conditions of practice’ order following a previous drug error faced three new charges of serious misconduct. The first charge was that the Registrant failed to protect the dignity of a hospital patient who had entered into respiratory arrest; the second was that they had failed to record oxygen levels of a hospital patient who had died; the third was that the Registrant had not taken appropriate action when it was noticed that a hospital patient had become seriously unwell.
In respect of all three charges, the Registrant maintained that the charges were either factually inaccurate, or did not amount to misconduct. In conference, and in the weeks ahead of the hearing, Ben worked closely with Thompsons to advise and prepare the Registrant for the hearing. As readers may be aware, the NMC’s Fitness to Practise panels follow a three stage procedure. They first decide whether the factual elements of a charge are approved. If so, in the second stage they then decide whether or not the factual charges amount to misconduct (or lack of competence), and if so whether this means that the Registrant’s ability to practice is currently impaired. If the panel finds that the Registrant is impaired, they then decide if there is to be any sanction in the third procedural stage.
After receiving Ben’s and Harjinder’s advice, the Registrant accepted the factual basis of the charges, but maintained that they did not amount to misconduct or impairment. Ben cross examined three professional witnesses, the ward manager, the matron to whom the manager reported, and the hospital employee who conducted the internal investigation into the Registrant’s conduct. In doing so, Ben was able to extract vital concessions, including the fact that the ward manager did not consider the first charge to be particularly serious, and that other hospital employees who had carried out similar actions had not faced any form of inquiry or report.
At the end of the first, factual, stage despite the Registrant admitting the charges, Ben made a submission of no case to answer on the basis that the charges did not amount to misconduct, which was successful in all respects. All charges were dismissed, and the Registrant was allowed to leave the hearing immediately and return to her job without any further difficulties.