Nursing and Midwifery Council Stops Releasing Details Ahead of Tribunal Hearings

The regulator for nurses and midwives, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, has been condemned by journalists after announcing it would no longer provide details ahead of tribunal hearings, as reported by Press Gazette.

Until the beginning of this week, details of charges against individuals were released on the NMC’s own website in advance of tribunals, which was used by journalists to make public failings of the nursing profession.

Scottish Newspaper Society director John McLellan said: “This is going backwards, not forwards and to me seems counter to the principles of open justice.”

He added: “In these times where nobody has got the resources to hang around outside tribunal offices on the off chance that something interesting might come up, it just makes life much more difficult. Most news organisations rely on agencies to monitor these things to have an idea what’s going on.

“There’s now the very real possibility that the proceedings will go unreported.”

A joint letter, signed by almost a dozen journalists, including Ian Cobain at The Guardian, Fiona Hamilton at The Times and Teilo Colley, wire editor at Press Association, has been sent to NMC chief executive Jackie Smith.

The letter states the NMC decision “makes a mockery of the council’s stated aim of transparency” and calls for the NMC to reconsider.

The NMC has said it will provide reports of the outcome of hearings and that its decision was based on balancing privacy rights against press access and followed new advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office.