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Preliminary Proceedings Committee investigates complaints

The role of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC) of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) is to consider complaints referred to it under the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011. The Committee may investigate complaints and form an opinion as to whether or not further action is warranted. The PPC must act in accordance with Part 7 of the Act and any agreed procedures.

Committee members

The PPC is a statutory committee of the Board of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, established under the Act. According to the Act, the PPC must be comprised as follows:

  • At least one third of the PPC members must be members of the Board.
  • The chairperson must be a member of the Board.
  • The majority of the PPC members may not be or may not have been registered nurses or midwives in this State or any other jurisdiction.

The PPC consists of ten members. They are as follows:

Board members:

  • Denis Murphy,  Chair (non-nurse/midwife)
  • Mary Gorman (midwife)
  • Breda Liston (nurse)
  • Anne Horgan (non-nurse/midwife)

Non-Board members:​

  • Geraldine Feeney (non-nurse/midwife)
  • Timothy Frawley (nurse)
  • Deirdre Naughton (midwife)
  • Ann Sheehan (non-nurse/midwife)
  • James Doorley (non-nurse/midwife)

The PPC held its first meeting on 4th September 2013.

Procedures of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (“the PPC”)

This document should be read in conjunction with Parts 7, 8 and 9 of the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011. This document is furnished to all complainants and to all nurses and midwives who are the subject of a complaint pursuant to section 55 of the 2011 Act.

Initial management of a complaint:

1. When a complaint is received by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (the “Board”), the Acting Director of Regulation (or designate) shall, on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer (the “CEO”), and with the authority of the Board (pursuant to Section 56 of the 2011 Act) and the PPC, carry out the following:

  1. Record the date of receipt of the complaint.
  2. Assign a reference number to the complaint.
  3. Open a complaint file.
  4. Place a ‘Refer to Fitness to Practise Department’ alert on the computerised registration database.
  5. Acknowledge receipt of the complaint and seek from the complainant such further information or documentation necessary to identify the nurse / midwife on the Register and in support of the complaint.
  6. Take such steps as are necessary to confirm the identity of the nurse / midwife on the Register and place a sheet containing the registration details of the nurse / midwife at the front of the file.
  7. Send a copy  of  the  complaint  and  all  supporting  documentation  to  the nurse / midwife and advise the nurse / midwife of his / her right to supply to the PPC any information that the nurse / midwife believes should be considered by the PPC or the Fitness to Practise Committee (the “FTPC”) and stipulate a reasonable time period (not less than six weeks) within which the nurse / midwife may do so.

2. All new complaints will be reviewed by the CEO.

3. When a nurse / midwife is initially informed of a complaint made against him / her, the nurse / midwife  will  be requested to inform the Board of any person who is representing him / her. A copy of the documentation at 1(g) above will be sent to the representative. In these circumstances, the time period set out in 1(g) will commence from the date the documentation is sent to the nurse / midwife’s representative.

4. A nurse / midwife who is the subject of a complaint or his / her representative may, in writing, request an extension of time in which to respond to the complaint. Such extension of time will be granted for a period of an additional four weeks. Any further extension of time will only be granted with the approval of the Chair of the PPC.

Consideration of a complaint by the PPC:

5. Once the nurse / midwife who is the subject of a complaint has been identified on the Register, the complaint file is listed as an agenda item for consideration at the next meeting of the PPC.

6. Consideration of a complaint by the PPC may be deferred in certain circumstances, e.g. an on-going criminal investigation.

7. In considering a complaint, the PPC may, pursuant to section 57(4) of the 2011 Act, by notice in writing given to a complainant, do one or more than one of the following:

(a) require the complainant to verify, by affidavit or otherwise, anything contained in the complaint;

(b) request the complaint to supply to the PPC, within a reasonable period specified in the notice, more information relating to the matter the subject of complaint;

(c) require that the information requested under paragraph (b) be supplied by the complainant by means of a statutory declaration.

The notice shall specify a reasonable time period for compliance with the notice.

8. Any additional documentation or information supplied by the complainant shall be furnished to the nurse / midwife, and his / her representative, and an additional period of time given for any further response the nurse / midwife or his / her representative wishes to make.

9. The PPC may refuse to consider or further consider a complaint if the complainant, without reasonable excuse, does not comply with a notice under Section 6 above given to the complainant.

10. The PPC may, pursuant to section 57(8) of the 2011 Act, by notice in writing given to a nurse or midwife the subject of a complaint, require the nurse or midwife to supply the PPC, within a reasonable time period specified in the notice,  with such information relating to the complaint as is specified in the notice.

11. Any information provided by the nurse / midwife to the PPC will, when directed by the PPC, be furnished by the Acting Director of Regulation (or designate) to the complainant for response.

12. Any response received by the PPC in respect of section 10 above will be furnished to the nurse / midwife and his / her representative and an opportunity provided for the nurse / midwife to provide the PPC with any further information that he / she may wish the PPC to consider.

13. The PPC may commission an expert report in relation to the complaint. If such a report is commissioned, the nurse / midwife will be informed that a report has been commissioned. A copy of the report will be furnished to the nurse / midwife and his/her representative and an opportunity provided for the nurse / midwife or his / her representative to provide the PPC with any further information that he / she may wish the PPC to consider.

14. Where a complaint is withdrawn while it is being considered by the PPC, the PPC may, with the Board’s agreement:

(a) Decide that no further action is to be taken in relation to the matter the subject of the complaint;

or

(b) Proceed as if the complaint had not been withdrawn.

Decision of the PPC:

15. The PPC shall, before forming an opinion on whether there is sufficient cause to warrant further action being taken in relation to a complaint, or whether the complaint should be referred to another body or authority, consider:

(a) Any information supplied concerning the complaint, and;

(b) Such matters relating to the nurse or midwife, the subject matter of the complaint, that arise from its investigation of the complaint as it considers appropriate, and;

(c) Whether the complaint is trivial or vexatious or without substance or made in bad faith.

16. Where the PPC is, in respect of a complaint, of the opinion that:

(a) There is not sufficient cause to warrant further action being taken in relation to the complaint;

(b) The complaint should be referred to another body or authority or to a professional
competence scheme (when established pursuant to Part 11 of the 2011 Act), or;

(c) The complaint is one that can be resolved by mediation or other informal means
(if established pursuant to section 60(1)), it shall inform the Board of that opinion.

17. Where the PPC is of the opinion that there is a prima facie case to warrant further action being taken in relation to a complaint, the PPC shall refer the complaint to the FTPC.
 
18. The PPC shall record one or more reasons for its decision.

Immediate suspension to protect the public:

19. Upon initial receipt of a complaint or upon receipt of any additional information regarding a complaint, the Acting Director of Regulation (or designate) may consider whether immediate suspension of the nurse / midwife may be necessary to protect the public. If the Acting Director of Regulation (or designate) considers that immediate suspension may be warranted, the complaint will be brought to the attention of the CEO so that the complaint may be brought to the attention of the Board for consideration pursuant to section 58 of the 2011 Act.
 
20. Upon initial receipt of a complaint or upon receipt of any additional information regarding a complaint, the PPC may consider whether immediate suspension of the nurse / midwife may be necessary to protect the public. If the PPC considers that immediate suspension may be warranted, the PPC may direct that the Acting Director of Regulation (or designate) bring the complaint to the attention of the CEO so that the complaint may be brought to the attention of the Board for consideration pursuant to section 58 of the 2011 Act.

Procedures:

21. In accordance with the provisions of section 24 (16) and the terms of reference of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee, which have been approved by the Board, the PPC will regulate its own procedures.
 
22. Failure by the Board or any of its organs, members or staff to comply with these procedures shall not of itself invalidate any act or omission.
 
23. These procedures will be reviewed on an annual basis or more frequently if necessary.
 
24. These procedures shall apply to all complaints received on or after the 2 October 2012.

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