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The role of witnesses following a complaint

Once a complaint has been made about a registered nurse or a registered midwife to the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC) we will begin our investigation. Investigative work may include interviewing witnesses about events that they saw or heard.
The solicitors acting for the CEO of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) may need to take a statement from you about the evidence you can give to the FTPC at the inquiry. You may then be called to give oral or spoken evidence at the inquiry about the matters referred to in your written statement.

Investigation of a complaint

It may take six to ten months from the time a complaint is referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee (FTPC) for an inquiry to be held. During this time, the solicitors acting for the CEO gather evidence in support of the complaint. This evidence may include reports, medical records, letters, e-mails and written witness statements.

Any documents obtained during the course of the investigation, including witness statements, will be disclosed to the nurse or midwife.

Legal requirement to attend an inquiry

The FTPC has all the powers, rights and privileges of the Court or of a judge of the Court in relation to witnesses’ attendance at an inquiry. You will be served with a subpoena or witness summons in advance of the inquiry and this will legally require you to attend the inquiry to give evidence.
It is a criminal offence not to comply with a witness summons. If you ignore a witness summons, you may be prosecuted. Please note that a witness summons to attend an inquiry overrides any other commitments that you may have on that day.

Publicity around the inquiry

Inquiries are held in public except in certain circumstances. As a witness you may wish to apply to the FTPC for the inquiry to held otherwise than in public, that is, in private or partly in private, or for your identity to be anonymised.
If you wish to make an application to the FTPC to hold the inquiry or part of the inquiry in private, the FTPC will consider your application and decide whether the application shows “reasonable and sufficient cause” and whether it is in the public interest to hold all or part of the inquiry otherwise than in public, that is, in private.
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 the venue. 
You are required not to talk to the media or press in advance of or during the inquiry about your evidence or any matter relevant to the inquiry: to do so may cause difficulties at the proceedings. You are not obliged to talk to the media after the inquiry.

Getting to the inquiry

Inquiries are usually held at the offices of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Blackrock, Co Dublin.   Visit our Contact page for more details and for a map. We will notify you if the inquiry is to be held elsewhere.
You are responsible for making your own way to the inquiry venue and for arriving in good time.
For information about travel options, go to our Witness Expenses page.
Please note that it may be necessary for you to travel to Dublin the day before you are required to give evidence and to stay in a hotel overnight in order to facilitate your early attendance at the inquiry. We will let you know if this is necessary. You will be responsible for booking your own accommodation.
NMBI acknowledges that attending an inquiry may put you to some expense. NMBI will cover certain expenses which you can claim once you have attended the inquiry and finished giving evidence. You should keep all receipts and submit them with your expenses claim form.

Support for people with special requirements

If you have any special requirements, please discuss them with the Fitness to Practise Department staff or with the solicitors for the CEO before the inquiry so that we can make it easier for you to give your evidence. Special requirements may include wheelchair access to the NMBI premises or meeting any particular dietary needs in the case of food allergies.

Further information

You can find out more about what is involved in attending a fitness to practise inquiry on these pages:

NMBI has prepared a booklet,  What to do if called to give evidence at a Fitness to Practise Inquiry, to assist witnesses. It outlines the inquiry process and what to expect if you are called to be a witness at an inquiry.

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What to do if called to give evidence at a fitness to practise inquiry

(PDF, 0.98 MB)


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