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NMC approves changes to Fitness to Practice

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The NMC council has voted in favour of altering Fitness to Practice (FtP) Rules and Education, Registration and Registration Appeals Rules.

The changes to the FtP process include the introduction of case examiners to determine whether a case is valid, and the removal of the requirement for the chair of a hearing to be a serving member of the NMC Council. This will allow any NMC registrant to chair a hearing.

The alterations are focused on improving the efficiency and speed of the FtP process.

Case examiners will assess a case before it is brought forward in the process, which the NMC says will improve efficiency by screening cases that are potentially a waste of time and resources.

The removal of the requirement for a Council member to chair a hearing follows concerns over potential conflicts of interest between Council members' responsibilities and their role in the hearing.

The changes also include allowing the review of 'no case to answer' decisions if new evidence arises. A 'no case to answer' decision is made by an investigative committee, which declines to move the case to a public hearing. Currently, the NMC cannot review the decisions once they have been made.

An NMC spokesperson has said that reversing this inability will improve the organisation's duty of public protection, as new evidence concerning a nurse or midwife's fitness to practice may arise. The NMC has not decided on a time limit for cases to be reopened.

Jackie Smith, the NMC's chief executive, said: 'These changes will further strengthen the NMC's ability to protect the public as well as allowing us to make additional efficiency savings by improving the effectiveness of our processes.'

It is anticipated that these changes will take effect in early 2015.

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