NMC Acts After Cafferkey Criticism

26 September 2016, 17:03

Allegations against nurses and midwives will no longer be available for public scrutiny ahead of disciplinary hearings, a regulator has said.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which was criticised over its handling of the charges against Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey, has decided to no longer publish allegations against medical staff on its website.

An NMC spokeswoman said the location of where the hearing would be held and the headline charge - such as whether the case was about misconduct or lack of competence - would be published a week before the hearing.

Full charges will be read out at the start of disciplinary hearings and will then be circulated only upon request.

The move means members of the public and the media will be prevented from reading the charges in advance.

Ms Cafferkey was cleared earlier this month of professional misconduct following an investigation by the NMC. It accused her of concealing her high temperature on returning to the UK from Ebola-hit Sierra Leone in 2014.

During a two-day hearing in Edinburgh, the NMC said Ms Cafferkey had allowed an incorrect temperature to be recorded by Public Health England's screening facility at Heathrow airport.

But a panel dismissed the charges after hearing she had been affected by the illness. Another charge of dishonesty was withdrawn.

Details of draft charges against Ms Cafferkey emerged in August and the final charges were published later.

In July, Ms Cafferkey spoke of her distress that the misconduct allegations remained unresolved more than 18 months after her return to the UK.

She told The Sunday Telegraph: "I don't know why it has not been finished. It's very stressful. It would be nice to have closure.''

Ms Cafferkey said the NMC apologised for mistakenly releasing the allegations on its website ahead of the hearing.

The NMC spokeswoman said: "As an organisation committed to continuous improvement, we are constantly reviewing our processes.

"Following feedback from our stakeholders and advice from the Information Commissioner, we have taken the decision to no longer publish detailed draft charges ahead of the hearing.

"These changes will help to ensure fairness to all parties as charges at pre-hearing stage may be subject to change.''

Another regulator, the General Medical Council, for doctors, refers cases to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS). The MPTS publishes summary allegations against medics on its website.