Giving evidence at a Fitness to Practise inquiry
Most Fitness to Practise inquiries last one or two days. If an inquiry is likely to last longer, we will try to allocate a specific day for individual witnesses to give evidence.
The solicitors will give you a specific time to be at the inquiry venue. The inquiry usually begins at 10.00am but you may be asked to attend at an earlier time (usually 8.30am) in order to meet the CEO’s legal team and staff representatives.
Please allow adequate time for your journey and to arrive at the required time. Contact the Fitness to Practise Department staff for assistance and check the map for directions.
The inquiry usually concludes each day between 4.00pm and 4.30pm. However, it may continue longer than expected. Please note that if your evidence is not heard on the day due to a delay or change in circumstances, you will be asked to attend on another day. The subpoena or witness summons will be valid for the next inquiry day and every day after that until you have given your evidence. We will always try to give you as much notice as possible about the date(s) on which you will be required to attend.
What to bring
If you hold original documents relevant to the inquiry, please bring them with you. The solicitors for the CEO will have advised you on the documents you should bring.
As you may have to wait while other witnesses give evidence, we suggest that you bring some reading materials or a laptop. Free wifi access is available in the NMBI offices and a member of staff will give you the password on request.
Tea, coffee and water are provided throughout the day and sandwiches are provided at lunchtime. If you have any special requirements, please let us know in advance.
When you arrive at the inquiry venue, please go to the reception desk and let the reception staff know that you are attending an inquiry. A member of staff from the Fitness to Practise Department will show you around the venue, including the location and layout of the room in which the inquiry will be held.
The staff member will explain:
- What will happen when you go into the inquiry room
- Where to stand when taking the oath or making an affirmation to tell the truth
- Who will be in the inquiry room and where they will be situated
- The order of proceedings.
The staff member will also answer any questions you might have. You will then be shown to a waiting room designated for witnesses only.
Meeting representatives before the inquiry
The legal representatives for the CEO may wish to meet you on the morning of the inquiry before you give your evidence in order to go through matters referred to in your statement or in any other relevant documents. The representatives for the nurse or midwife may also ask to meet you before you give your evidence. While it is normal practice to do so, you are not obliged to meet the nurse or midwife’s representatives.
The inquiry will adjourn or break for lunch. The inquiry may also adjourn at the end of each day, if the inquiry lasts for more than one day. The FTPC may also adjourn the inquiry for a longer period because it has become clear that more time will be needed to complete the proceedings.
It is extremely important that you do not talk to anyone about the case or about your evidence during an adjournment or break. This includes anyone else involved with the case and your family or friends. If you do talk to anyone about the case or about your evidence, this could affect the outcome of the inquiry.
Waiting to give evidence
On arrival at the inquiry venue you will be shown to a waiting room. You will not have to wait in the same room as the nurse or midwife who is the subject of the inquiry.
You will not generally hear other witnesses’ evidence before you give your own evidence. We try to ensure that inquiries proceed as quickly as possible and that witnesses are called in a timely manner. However, it is not unusual for witnesses to wait for some time before being called to give evidence or to be asked to return at a later date.
While waiting with other witnesses you should not discuss your own evidence or theirs as this might influence the case. You should take time to read your witness statement before you are called to give evidence. You may not be entitled to have your witness statement in front of you when giving your evidence.
The Role of the Expert Witness
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