Fitness to Practise inquiries
Inquiries (also called hearings) are usually held in the offices of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) in Blackrock, County Dublin. You can find contact details and a map on the Contact Us page. Under the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011 inquiries are held in public, except in certain circumstances. If the inquiry is held in public, any member of the public may attend. The media will know about the inquiry and will have the right to report on the matter. Photographers and television cameras may be present outside inquiry venue.
The registered nurse or midwife who is the subject of the complaint may apply in writing to the Fitness to Practise Committee (FTPC) for the inquiry or part of the inquiry to be held in private or for her / his identity to be anonymised. Any person called to attend as a witness may make a similar application to the FTPC.
The inquiry will be similar to a hearing that usually takes place in a court or before a tribunal. The FTPC will hear the evidence presented at the inquiry. The FTPC usually sits in panels of five members comprising three people who are not nurses or midwives, one nurse and one midwife, one nurse and one midwife. One member of the FTPC panel will act as Chairperson. There will also be a legal assessor who will sit with and advise FTPC on the law and procedure.
The legal representatives of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NMBI will open the inquiry, present the evidence and call witnesses to give evidence in support of the complaint. The nurse or midwife or their representative may question these witnesses about their evidence. The committee may also ask the witnesses questions about their evidence.
Once the legal representative for the CEO has completed presenting their case, the nurse or midwife, or their legal representative may make submissions to the FTPC and / or call witnesses to give evidence. The CEO may cross-examine any witnesses called on behalf of the nurse or midwife. The FTPC may also ask these witnesses questions.
When all the evidence has been heard, the FTPC will draw up its report, possibly on the day of the inquiry but perhaps at a later date. The report will contain information about the following:
- The complaint that led to the inquiry.
- The evidence presented to the FTPC.
- The FTPC’s findings, that is, whether any or all allegations were proven and on which grounds.
- Any undertaking or consent given by the nurse or midwife to the FTPC, if applicable.
It may also contain information about the nurse or midwife that the FTPC considers appropriate.