Nursing Student Fitness to Practise Defence Barristers

Healthcare regulators set the learning outcomes and standards that must be covered by qualifications leading to registration.  They also approve and monitor these training programmes.  The standards expected of registered healthcare professionals are set by healthcare regulators and the standards expected of students are based on these principles.

Nursing Student Fitness to Practise

According to the NMC, a nursing or midwifery student is fit to practise when they “have the skills, knowledge, character and health to work in their profession safely and effectively.”

Examples of circumstances that might call into question your fitness to practise as a nursing or midwifery student could include:

  • character (such as convictions, plagiarism, falsifying records);
  • unmanaged or untreated health problems; and/or
  • misconduct (abuse of patients or colleagues); or
    lack of competence.
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How does the student fitness to practise process work?

  1. If a concern is raised there will be an initial investigation. If no evidence is found then you will carry on in your training as before. If there are some issues that need addressing they may be relatively minor and resolved by you agreeing to additional support and supervision for a period of time.
  2. If the issues continue, or are more serious, they may be referred to a fitness to practise panel or committee through formal student fitness to practise procedures. You should be informed of this in writing and be offered an opportunity to present written evidence. There may be a formal hearing where you have to appear at a meeting with the panel/committee and answer questions about the issues and present evidence on how you are addressing them. The panel will make a decision on the appropriate course of action to help you become fit to practise, or whether it is best for you to leave the course. These are called sanctions. Alternatively, they may provide you with a warning or find there is no issue and allow you to continue training.

There are four types of sanctions:

  • Undertakings – an agreement between you and the training provider where it is found that your fitness to practise is impaired and you acknowledge this. This agreement is usually taken forward before and instead of a formal hearing.
  • Conditions – Conditions such as remedial tuition and increased supervision may be applied where there is a significant concern about your fitness to practise, you have shown insight in to your problems and there is a good chance this will help you get back on track.
  • Suspension from the course – This would occur to prevent you continuing with the course for a period of time. Suspensions occur when the concerns about your fitness to practise are serious but not so serious as to justify immediate expulsion from the course. You would be expected to comply with any further conditions when returning to the course.
  • Expulsion from the course – The most severe sanction is the panel’s decision that expelling you is the only way to protect patients and the public. Your behaviour would be judged to be completely incompatible with that of continuing on the course or eventually practising.

The NMC will require you to disclose conditions, suspensions and expulsions when applying for registration.

Representation and Appeals

Should you have to attend a student fitness to practise hearing your training provider will allow you to be represented. You are advised to seek legal advice to help you through the process and have legal representation should you have to attend a hearing.

Your training provider will have a clear appeals procedure for student fitness to practise decisions setting out what the process is and what can be considered. A finding of impaired fitness to practise could have lasting and significant implications for students and trainees.  You are advised to seek legal advice to help you with appeal proceedings.

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