Chapter 7: The Nursing and Midwifery Council
Conclusion: what is added to public understanding
- On 29 May 2001, the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting informed Hampshire Constabulary that it had decided to open a file for the cases of three relevant nurses.
- The Panel notes that the Preliminary Proceedings Committee in effect relied upon Portsmouth HealthCare NHS Trust’s findings and upon the decision not to take criminal proceedings rather than conducting its own enquiries. The family of Gladys Richards were not informed of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee’s decision not to proceed with the allegations because they were not considered to be the complainants.
- The documents show the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s dismissal of the material supplied by the police as not warranting action, but they do not provide evidence of the basis upon which their assessment was made. In respect of the five cases subject to complaint, Clare Strickland, the in-house lawyer for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, was of the view that there was insufficient evidence of misconduct in respect of any of the nurses referred to in the papers, save for the possibility of the failure of certain nurses to challenge the inappropriate prescribing administered by Dr Jane Barton in the cases of Alice Wilkie and Elsie Devine. However, the lawyer did not consider it necessary to obtain expert evidence in this matter, or in respect of any other matter, despite her own acknowledgement that she did not have the medical/practical expertise or the time to identify evidence of misconduct.
- The Nursing and Midwifery Council was extremely cautious in seeking not to undermine or in any way prejudice any of the other investigations. The length of the police investigation, the time spent before the inquests took place and then the subsequent time taken in the General Medical Council proceedings all meant that the delay before the Preliminary Proceedings Committee hearing took place was excessive.
- The documents also reveal the almost complete lack of communication between August 2002 and June 2010 when the families were told the outcome. By its own admission, the Nursing and Midwifery Council in that period had been dedicated to maintaining contact with the official bodies involved.