Character issues

Cases concerning character nearly always involve some form of criminal behaviour

What to report

Only serious criminal convictions or cautions should be referred to us.

A minor fixed penalty traffic offence, for example a speeding fine or parking ticket, is unlikely to be a case to us.

Internal discipline

On some occasions, you will need to consider whether to discipline or educate a nurse or midwife whose behaviour has brought the profession into disrepute, even if their actions have not resulted in legal proceedings. For example, a nurse or midwife’s behaviour outside work may cause you or a patient to question whether they are the right sort of person to be giving people care.

If you are ever unsure whether to make a referral, don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.


Examples of behaviour that indicate questions around character include:

  • a caution or conviction – for example, theft, fraud, violence, sexual offences or drug dealing
  • dishonesty, or
  • serious cases of accessing illegal material from the internet.

Professional indemnity insurance (PII)

In relation to PII requirements, a fitness to practise referral will be appropriate where:

  • a nurse or midwife makes a dishonest indemnity declaration to the NMC in order to secure or continue registration
  • a nurse or midwife does not have an indemnity arrangement in place, whether or not appropriate cover is subsequently secured, in circumstances amounting to misconduct i.e. conduct falling below the standards to be expected of a registered nurse or midwife
  • a service user’s civil court judgement for damages, for example in a negligence claim against a nurse or midwife, goes unsatisfied because the registrant did not have appropriate indemnity cover in place.

Case study: Issues of character

In 2010–2011, around 35 percent of allegations that appeared before an NMC Conduct and Competence Committee hearing related to the person’s character.


One of those cases involved an adult nurse who was found guilty of making indecent photographs of a child by a Crown Court. The individual was sentenced by the Court to two years' community punishment and rehabilitation, and was disqualified from working with children.


The Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 requires us to investigate allegations that an individual’s fitness to practise is impaired because of a criminal conviction. In this case, the Fitness to Practise panel recognised that the behaviour was fundamentally incompatible with being a nurse and was in very serious conflict with the Code.

The nurse broke the trust and confidence of the public, threatened the good reputation of the profession and broke UK laws. They were struck off the NMC register.

Created date :
Modified date :