The NMC will investigate allegations about whether an entry on its register is fraudulent or incorrect, and will act if an entry is fraudulent. I look at the types of NMC entries, when an entry might be considered fraudulent, and the powers available to the NMC.
Entries on the NMC’s Register
There are numerous types of Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register entries that, according to the NMC, are liable to errors or information that is deliberately misleading. These can be broken down as follows:
- Approved qualification
- Indemnity arrangement
- Health and Character Declarations
- Non-payment of fee
- Other registration requirements
- Registered practice hours
- Continuing professional development
- Identity fraud
Incorrect or fraudulent register entries are considered for:
- first time registrations
- registration renewals
- readmission to the register
In relation to these entries, the NMC may receive allegations about an entry on the register that is fraudulent or incorrect. When this happens, the NMC will open an investigation to establish if the allegation points to “deliberately misleading” information on its register.
The NMC says it will prioritise these types of allegations because it needs to, in the first instance, establish if a nurse or midwife is entitled to practise before it will consider if a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise may be impaired.
Incorrect or Fraudulent Entries
What could be considered an incorrect entry as opposed to a fraudulent entry?
According to the NMC:
- An incorrect entry is when it registers, renews or readmits a nurse or midwife onto the register based on wrong or inaccurate information as a result of “a simple mistake by a nurse, midwife or nursing associate, by the NMC or another third party.”
- Conversely, an entry on the register is fraudulently procured if either any of the information was submitted with the deliberate intention to mislead the NMC provided to the NMC as part of an application was obtained or created by fraud.
Each case will be determined on a case by case basis and considered on its individual merits.
NMC Investigation Process
Fraudulent entries will involve an element of dishonesty amounting to misconduct. This will affect a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise, giving the NMC grounds to investigate.
It is worth noting that the NMC will refer both incorrect or fraudulent cases to its Investigating Committee at the conclusion of an investigation only if it considers that the allegation is capable of amounting to an allegation of incorrect or fraudulent entry. Therefore, the NMC is unlikely to refer cases to its Investigating Committee for:
- cases where the evidence doesn’t support a finding of fraudulent or incorrect entry;
- incorrect entry cases where the error was not material (meaning that it either wouldn’t have made any difference to the entry in the Register or it has since been addressed); or
- cases where, if we did make a referral to the Investigating Committee, our recommendation would be that no regulatory action was required.
If the Investigating Committee finds an allegation of fraudulent or incorrect entry proved, it may order the Registrar to remove the entry, amend the entry, or it may take no action. The Committee also has the power to impose an interim order at the same time.
Current Fitness to Practise
Nurses and midwives often make the mistake of assuming that their current fitness to practise is a relevant consideration for the Investigating Committee when it considers allegations of fraudulent or incorrect entries.
Current fitness to practise is irrelevant in cases of fraudulent or incorrect entries. This is because, if a nurse or midwife was accepted onto, or remained on the register incorrectly or fraudulently in the first place, they were (are) not entitled to legally practise and therefore their fitness to do so, at the time of consideration, is irrelevant.
The NMC states:
“Because the Committee’s focus is the validity of the original registration, renewal or readmission decision, evidence about the person’s current work or ability to provide care is unlikely to be relevant.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not the person whose name was entered on the register could meet the relevant criteria to be successfully registered, or if they’re currently able to practise safely. The key issue is if we made the entry based on information that was either submitted with the deliberate intention to mislead the NMC or was fraudulently obtained or created.”
Expert Legal Advice Matters
Legal advice and representation matters in cases involving allegations of fraudulent or incorrect entries. The nurse or midwife will have an opportunity to respond and submit information and evidence to the NMC. Legal advice and representation will greatly assist nurses and midwives with clear, robust and timely responses that can lead to a resolution without the need to refer the matter to the Investigating Committee.
In cases where the NMC does decide to refer the matter to its Investigating Committee, we can represent nurses and midwives. With over 30 years combined experience, Kings View Chambers have established itself as one of the best when it comes to fitness to practise defence. We fully understand that fitness to practise defence is not merely about processes and procedures. We also understand that we are working with people who are anxious and worried about what investigations might mean for them, their professions and the reputations.
We are proud to be rated ‘excellent’ by our clients. Our commitment to client care is genuine in both seeking the very best outcomes for our clients, but also ensuring we do what we can to support them through the process.
Disclaimer: This article is for guidance purposes only. Kings View Chambers accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken, in relation to this article. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.