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Tribunal

As of 1 January 2014 the Nursing and Midwifery Tribunal in New South Wales ceased to exist and its jurisdiction was transferred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

Nursing and midwifery cases (complaints, appeals and some review applications) fall within the Health Practitioner Division List in the Occupational Division of NCAT. That List is managed by the List Manager, The Hon Jennifer Boland AM.

Consequential changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) to reflect NCAT's emergence are effective from 1 January 2014. 

The Council and the Health Care Complaints Commission will continue to be required to refer a notification (complaint) to the Tribunal if either forms the opinion that the notification (complaint) would, if substantiated, provide grounds for the suspension or cancellation of a registered health practitioner or student's registration (except in the case of impairment). A complaint may also be referred by a Professional Standards Committee (PSC) to the Tribunal for the same reason. The Tribunal is part of the disciplinary pathway for managing complaints.

The Tribunal also considers:

  • appeals against the decisions of other bodies including the Council, PSCs, Panels or the National Board for registration decisions and;
  • requests for a review of conditions, suspensions or orders unless another adjudication body has been specified as the appropriate review body in the original decision or where the Tribunal has been specified in the original decision as the appropriate review body.

The Tribunal in hearing matters concerning nurses and midwives consists of a Principal division member who is an Australian lawyer of at least seven years' experience and three other members (known as occasional members) selected by the Council and appointed by NCAT. If the matter concerns a nurse, two of the three other persons must be a nurse (including one from the same division, if applicable). If the matter concerns a midwife, two of the three other persons must be a midwife. The third other member is a person who is not a registered nurse or midwife.

Although the Council is responsible for selecting the professional and lay members to the Tribunal, the Tribunal is separately constituted body and acts independently of the Council. The Council is bound by the Tribunal's decisions and where appropriate monitors the practitioner's compliance with the orders made and/or conditions imposed.

If a Tribunal finds the subject matter of a complaint against a nurse or midwife to be proved the Tribunal may take one or more of the following actions:

  • caution or reprimand the nurse or midwife
  • impose conditions on the nurse or midwife's registration
  • order the nurse or midwife to seek and undergo medical or psychiatric treatment or counselling
  • order the nurse or midwife to complete an educational course
  • order the nurse or midwife to report on his or her practice
  • order the nurse or midwife to seek and take advice in relation to the management of his or her practice.

In some cases the Tribunal may order that the conditions imposed or orders made are critical compliance conditions so that if there is a failure to comply with the terms of such conditions or orders, then the nurse and/or midwife's registration will be cancelled.

The Tribunal may suspend or cancel a registered nurse or midwife's registration for a specified period if the Tribunal is satisfied that the nurse or midwife:

  • is not competent to practise their profession; or
  • is guilty of professional misconduct; or
  • has been convicted of or made the subject of a criminal finding for an offence, either in or outside of NSW, and the circumstances of the offence render the person unfit in the public interest to practise nursing or midwifery; or
  • the nurse or midwife is not a suitable person for registration as a nurse or midwife.

In certain cases where the Tribunal suspends or cancels a nurse and/or midwife's registration and it is satisfied that the person is a substantial risk to the health of members of the public, the Tribunal can make a prohibition order. Such an order can prohibit the person from providing health services or impose conditions on the provision of health services by the person, either for a specified period of time, or permanently.

The Tribunal may also order the imposition of a fine on a nurse and/or midwife of up to $27,500. However a fine may only be imposed where a tribunal finds a nurse or midwife to have been guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct; and the Tribunal is satisfied that there is no other order or combination of orders, that is appropriate in the public interest.

If the nurse or midwife is no longer registered, the Tribunal may decide that if the nurse or midwife had been still registered the Tribunal would have suspended or cancelled the person's registration and decide that the person is disqualified from being registered as a nurse or midwife for a specified period or until specified conditions have been complied with by the nurse or midwife.

Tribunal hearings are generally open to the public and their decisions are published. More about how a Tribunal hearing proceeds is available by clicking here.