Fitness to Practise
Fitness to practise means that all applicants to health care programmes must demonstrate they have sufficient good health and good character for safe and effective practise:
- On entry to the programme
- Throughout the programme
- To register as a health professional with the regulatory body at the end of the programme, for example the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) if you are an Operating Department Practitioner or Paramedic
The role of the regulatory organisation is to protect the health and wellbeing of people who use the services and the health and well being of the health professionals registered with them.
A good health reference from your GP is required as part of the application process and may be followed up with a medical assessment by the Occupational Health Service.
A good character reference from the Disclosure and Barring Service is required as part of the application process and is an enhanced disclosure. This means that all cautions and convictions spent or otherwise will be identified.
More Information About Fitness To Practise
The project team, Professor Barbara Jack, Julie Devereux, Pat Hosgood, Jennifer Kirton, would like to thank the following people for their input into this project:
- Gill Curry: Occupational Health, Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Hazel Devereux: Institutional Inclusion team
- D Christine Donnelly: Senior Lecturer Complementary Therapies, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Napier University, Edinburgh, for her guidance and support
- Ann-Marie Johnson: Pre entry Advice and Guidance Officer, EHU
- Joanne Linskey: Pre Registration Child Branch Student
With particular thanks to the Higher Education Academy for the small project grant and all the students who participated in the study.
Thank you also to Edge Hill University for supporting the project and to all the departments who are contributing to the development of the web zone.
What do we mean by good Health?
Health is a very difficult thing to describe and the aim of this part of the website is to give you enough information for you to decide if you have sufficient “Good Health”
Definition of Good Health
Good health is necessary to undertake practice as a nurse or midwife. Good health means that you must be capable of safe and effective practice without supervision. It does not mean the absence of any disability or health condition. Many disabled people and those with long-term health conditions are able to practise with or without adjustments to support their practice.
Long-term conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes or depression can be well managed and would then not be incompatible with registration.
Temporary health conditions do not necessarily mean a person is not fit to practise. For example having a broken leg may mean a person is not fit to work for a period of time. It does not mean they are not fit to practise as they can reasonably expect to recover fully and return to work.( NMC 2008)
Completion of the medical questionnaire
All students who are offered a place on a professional course are required to fill out a medical questionnaire. This questionnaire will then be sent to our Occupational Health Department and you will be required to consent to your GP being contacted should the Occupational Health Department have any queries.
If you have any concerns relating to your health you may wish to discuss it with your doctor before applying for the course.
You cannot be fully registered as a student on the programme until this process has been successfully completed. Until you are registered as a full time student you will not receive funding, either a bursary or a grant, and will not be able to start your placements on the programme.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some questions that may come to mind after looking at these areas are:
Q. Why do you need to know about my health when I am only at University?
A. If you are applying for a Nursing, Midwifery or Operating Department Practitioner or Paramedic programme at Edge Hill University, you will have placements in hospitals and other health settings. It is the responsibility of the University to ensure that you are safe while you are in practise and that the people you come into contact with are safe also. That may mean we have to make some adjustments before you go out into practice. We can’t do that unless we know about any problems you have.
What is meant by reasonable adjustment?
Q. Can I become a nurse, midwife or health professional if I have a health need such as asthma, diabetes, mental health needs, HIV or another long term chronic condition
A. There are many students with health needs that have successfully completed their training and have jobs but it is recommended that you discuss your condition with us before you apply. This is called a health disclosure. The following information may appear at first glance just to be relating to a disability however disclosure about your medical condition will allow us prepare you and your placement area for well in advance to support your progression on your programme. There will be other opportunities for you to discuss any concerns you may have, this maybe following your application, at your interview or when you commence the course. The sooner the better!
Q. What happens if I have a learning need such as dyslexia or dyspraxia or I feel I might need some extra support to get me through the course?
A. Edge Hill University has a wide range of resources that can support you once you are on the course and you can look at what is available by clicking on to the following link.
Q. What if I have a physical disability, can I still get on the course
A. Students with physical disabilities have successfully completed their health professional training at Edge Hill University.
All Universities have to comply with the Disability Discriminations Act 2005. This means that each person’s circumstances will be reviewed individually
You will receive a health questionnaire which when completed you must have countersigned by your GP (there is a specific area on the last page of the questionnaire for your GP to sign and stamp). By countersigning your health questionnaire your GP is confirming that the information you have declared is in line with what is in your medical records, he or she may add comments to clarify information you have declared, if appropriate.
When completing your questionnaire you will see that you are requested to forward information regarding your vaccination/immunisation history, there will be additional information in your pack advising you as to where you can access this.
When your health questionnaire is received in the Health Work & Well-being Centre it will be assessed by an occupational health practitioner. At this point you may be contacted by telephone to clarify information you have declared on your health questionnaire or you may be invited in for a face to face health assessment. In order to comply with Department of Health guidelines all student midwives and student ODP’s will be required to attend for a face to face health assessment prior to the commencement of their course.
NB If you tick “yes” to anything on your health questionnaire; please give as much information as you can regarding this declaration, this may enable the OH practitioner to process your health questionnaire without having to contact you.
In some instances the OH practitioner may require further information from your GP, if this is the case they will discuss this with you and request your consent to approach your GP.
There are many opportunities to see our facilities, meet staff and current students and to discuss any anxieties you may have about applying for a particular programme.
If you’re considering an undergraduate health programme, you may be interested in our monthly talks for prospective nursing students and bi-monthly talks for prospective midwifery students at the Ormskirk Campus.
What do we mean by good character?
Good character is concerned with the attitude, conduct and behaviour, honesty and integrity of professionals working with vulnerable groups of people.
All Universities have to ensure that students working in placement areas as part of their professional programme have the “good character” to do so safely and effectively, both at the start of the programme and throughout the course.
At the end of the programme, the university must make a declaration of good character to the professional regulatory body in order that you can register.
How will we know?
When you apply to University you are asked to indicate on your UCAS application form whether you have or have had any criminal convictions or cautions. This will not influence the application process at this point. If you meet the programme requirements, you will be invited for interview.
All students who are successful at interview are offered a place subject to a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance. You will be asked to complete the relevant forms as part of this process. It is important to complete these forms as soon as you are asked to because you cannot be registered as a full time student until these have been successfully processed.
Until you are registered as a full time student you will not receive funding, either a bursary or a grant, and will not be able to start your placements on the programme.
Completion of the Disclosure and Barring Service form
All applications for programmes within the Faculty of Health and Social Care will require an Enhanced Disclosure. An enhanced disclosure contains the same information as a standard disclosure but also includes non-conviction information from local police records if it is thought to be relevant.
This means that the process may take longer if you have lived at several addresses. A copy of the Enhanced Disclosure will be sent to your home address by the Disclosure and Barring Service at the same time it is sent to the university.
You must inform the University if you have been cautioned, charged or found guilty of a criminal offence during the period of your application or at any point during your programme. If you are unclear what constitutes any of the above, contact the pre admissions helpline – Pre-Entry Advice and Guidance – or discuss this with your personal teacher.
What will happen if I have had a caution or conviction?
If you are aware you have ever received any criminal conviction or caution, you will need to provide written information relating to this to the Head of Fitness to Practise, Faculty of Health and Social Care.
You will then be invited to meet with a panel with a representative from practise as well as Faculty of Health and Social Care staff to discuss this information. Every case is dealt with individually.
- Examples of convictions or cautions that may be of concern when it comes to fitness to practise can be found in NMC Guidance on professional conduct for nursing and midwifery students (PDF)
What will happen to the information about me?
The University complies with the Disclosure and Barring Service Code of Conduct and the Data Protection Act, so the information which is often extremely sensitive and personal, remains confidential.
Once a decision has been made that you are fit to practise in relation to good character, your application form is securely stored for the duration of your programme. It is not necessary to share that information with any other persons.
Click on the headings to view the story text, or listen to the audio by pressing the play button to the left of the grey bars.
James is studying on the Operating Department Practitioner programme and has depression
Starting on this course at Edge Hill University has given me the opportunity to learn. I’m learning so much. Every day is different. I absolutely love the course.
Before I started, I was concerned that I might not get accepted because I have had a few problems in the past, mainly with depression. The practical side is fine; it’s the academic side of it because I was never too bright at school. I’m a practical kind of person and sometimes I just get swamped down with academic side of things
I think that because of my age, I’m 29, this is probably one of my last chances to start a course like this. I only studied up to my A Levels at school. I never went to university or do anything higher than A Levels. I think deciding to come back to studying is pretty hard when you are older because you’re a bit nervous and usually people are a lot younger than you.
Obviously financially it’s quite difficult too. After you’ve taken that step, the last thing you need is to go through all the application forms and the interview and then have to write down on your medical questionnaire that you have a history of depression. The last thing you want is someone to read that and say ‘No’.
Usually when I go for a job, I never put down that I have depression because I think that it will affect my chances of getting the job. I mean when you do your A Levels you’re always told that the university will look for the best score, like you know you if you got three A’s you know they’re going to take you over someone who’s got three C’s. So why wouldn’t they look at your medical condition and think, ok this person has exactly the same mark as that person but this person is depressed so we’ll take the person who is not.
But it is not like that at University.
I did not feel comfortable telling Occupational Health that I had depression, but I had to give a letter in from my doctor. You can’t start on your placement until you’ve been signed off by Occupational Health. I was worried as I had proofread what the doctor had said and I thought to myself, ‘If I read this I wouldn’t hire me’. But it didn’t cause any problems, I got my letter of acceptance from Occupational Health and have now finished my second year, I have just handed my last assignment in today.
I really did not want to have to tell University that I had depression. I don’t like telling anyone. It was when I got accepted onto the course and just thought to myself –‘they know I’ve got depression, and I’m on the course anyway!’
Assistance on the course
To be honest, it has been hard work, really enjoyable, but hard work. I have had ups and downs, but if I am ever down I just go and see my personal tutor. The fact that I had told university that I suffered with depression has made it easier. If I am ever having difficulties I just go and see my personal tutor, who understands me so well and I don’t know, but she sounds as if she has had some personal experience with depression. When I realised that I was suffering again I popped in and got a meeting with her and talked my way through it. She said ‘well you know that you can have emergency counseling right here, right now. You don’t have to wait you can go in tomorrow, you can go in next week, they are there for you’.
I just wish that at the beginning of my studies I could have read some success stories of people like me, you know saying – We’ve had it, we’ve done it and we’ve qualified!
Katie is studying on the child branch programme and has dyslexia
I suspected I might be dyslexic when I was applying for the course but I didn’t actually know. My sister was diagnosed recently and I struggle more than her! She advised me to see what the university has to offer. I found out that there is a team of people in the library who specialise in helping students with this called Edge Ahead. You can have a test that they arrange for you and that there are grants available to provide additional support. They told me I needed to contact them as soon as I was registered on the course; they weren’t actually able to do anything for me until I was registered as an Edge Hill student.
I was a bit concerned that I might struggle on the course. This course is 50% practical which is what really attracted me to it in the first place. I’m quite good if I have the support when it comes to assignments because I know I can ask people to read through and check for spelling and grammar mistakes. But in exams because I don’t have that help available, I always panic and often as a result I forget things or don’t write clearly.
It was really good to have the opportunity to be tested. When I found out I did have dyslexia I was given a letter which explains my type of dyslexia. I submit this when I do exams and although it doesn’t give me any extra marks, it explains why I might have missed full stops or made grammatical mistakes so that allowances can be made.
Disclosure and Support
Since my diagnosis, I have been given lots of information about the support tools that are available for me to access like special computer packages. It has been really helpful. I also go for sessions on assignment support to help me with my assignment and I get additional time in exams. I also get a lap top so that I have access to all the specific programmes that I need to support my learning and I get an extra financial allowance because I’m dyslexic that comes from the grants system.
Part of me doesn’t like telling people I’m dyslexic in case they think I’m slow or something. But the university have given me all this help so they obviously don’t see it as a problem otherwise I wouldn’t be on this course!
It is difficult on placement with my spelling and grammar when it comes to filling out placement documents. I practice writing words that I use frequently on each placement and ask for feedback from the nurse in charge. I write things out in rough and get someone to check it well in advance to make sure it’s written in the right context before I write in any formal documents.
I think it’s really important to be honest. I mean, one of the characteristics of a nurse is to be honest, because with record keeping everything has to be spot on and you are accountable for any mistakes. So if you’re not honest about something like having dyslexia and you miss something out which could be a silly word but that could be absolutely vital to the sentence, even just something like ‘and’, it could make a big difference to how care is delivered and become a really big issue. If people on your placement aren’t aware of your dyslexia, you know you’re on your own and will have no one to support you or to stand by you.
I didn’t realise how common it was. I’ve met about six people already on my course who have got dyslexia and they all have found different ways to cope with it. When it comes to exams, there are about fifteen of us who get extra support for all different reasons so I don’t feel alone. As well as getting additional time, I actually get to use a computer and have a reader as well. It really takes the pressure off and means I am much calmer when answering the questions.
Daniel is studying on the mental health branch programme and had concerns about his health
I lived in Africa before I started this course and became involved in care work when I came to the UK. I became interested in the health of the people I cared for and knew I wanted to study to find out more, but was unsure which course was right for me.
Health is very important. It’s very important. When I came to England my GP said that we need to find out whether you have had any infections in Africa. Some people coming from Africa have diseases like TB and HIV so it was important for me to get checked so that I could get treatment if I needed it. Because he was open and honest from the beginning with me, I was very open and honest with my GP.
It was my GP who helped me decide to apply for mental health nursing. My GP said this is the right course for you. So I told him am I going to qualify about my health? So he said you really will qualify for it, go for this one.It is not a problem for you.
I believe that to train as a nurse or a healthcare professional you need to be healthy first and then secondly have the right entry qualifications. The two things go hand in hand of course. You might have lots of qualifications but if you can’t do the job because of your health, you can’t succeed in that field. I wasn’t at all worried about completing the Occupational Health forms because I had already had my MOT with my GP and knew I would be fine
I enrolled on the fast track programme to prepare myself for the academic side of the course. I don’t know how well I would be coping now if I hadn’t had the preparation of fast track. When I get an assignment now, I know how to tackle it! I know how to get the books I need from the library and how to access e-books and -journals. I also learned how supportive a personal teacher can be. Help was always available and I gained confidence in my own academic ability.
The mental health course is both interesting and challenging and although finances are never enough, everything else is quite brilliant!
I would suggest that anyone worried about their health status and whether it will impact or prevent them from getting on to a course, should go and discuss it with their GP. It will put your mind at rest!
Emma is studying on the adult branch programme and has asthma
I’d always known I wanted to be a nurse. I come from a nursing family. When I left school I got a job as a healthcare assistant in a nursing home just to make sure!
When I was applying for the course I had a health questionnaire I had to fill in. I thought that they’d reject me because I had asthma and I did consider not disclosing it but then I thought they’d find out sooner or later anyway so I may as well just put it down. Anyway, my GP had to sign the back of it.
I’d been for my interview and was offered a place on the course subject to satisfactory references, CRB check and medical. I knew I’d get good references because I was doing well in my job and I wasn’t worried about my CRB check. But because I’ve got asthma I was wondering if that would affect anything but it didn’t.
Then I got a letter saying that I had to make an appointment with the Occupational Health nurse. I made an appointment and then I went. They had all my details there because I’d filled in a questionnaire and she just asked me the questions that I’d answered yes to.
One of those questions was about medication and whether you have taken any in the last twelve months. She just asked me what the medication was and I said my inhalers. My asthma is well managed as long as take my inhalers and she told me there and then that I’d passed. I was so relieved! She said oh you’ve passed and it’s all fine. She just needed to send the form back to university with her signature on it.
Since I’ve been on the course I have had some time off sick on placement and was worried about how to make up my hours. I e-mailed my personal teacher who is really good. I emailed her on a Sunday and she emailed me back at 09:50 on Monday! She reassured me that it wouldn’t stop me progressing on the course and she would plan with me and my next placement how I could begin to make up time. There was no pressure because she explained I have until the end of my course to complete the right number of practice hours. The main thing was that I was well again, that I was passing my practice learning outcomes and I was passing all my theory work too.