Public inquiries

Our work with inquiries into major failings of care

What is a public inquiry?

Public inquiries are major investigations into an event or set of events to understand:

  • what happened
  • why it happened, and
  • what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

Inquiries consider many factors and often involve complex systems, historical incidents, human factors and cross professions and systems. In line with our statutory obligations, it is important that we effectively monitor and respond to inquiries and reviews to minimise risks to safety and ensure lessons are learnt.

How does this work support our strategic objectives?

In our 2020-25 Strategy we made a commitment to learn the lessons from major failings in care, to help reduce the risk of future harm.

We do this by listening to the experiences of the public; nurses, midwives and nursing associates on our register; and through our engagement with inquiry teams.

This work supports the commitments set out in our Code. The Code presents the professional standards that nurses, midwives and nursing associates must uphold in order to be registered to practise in the UK. The Code includes the duty to cooperate with all investigations, even after they have left the register.

What we do

For people receiving care

  • Provide support for patients, families and public when they have raised concerns about a nurse, midwife or nursing associate through our public support service.
  • Address the recommendations of inquiry reports, monitoring and evaluating any actions we take.

For inquiry teams

  • Provide NMC intelligence and data to help inquiry teams with their investigations.
    • We do this for both statutory and non-statutory inquiries by creating an Information Sharing Agreement with relevant inquiries.
  • Give evidence at appeals panels if appropriate.
  • Support the Chair and inquiry team for the duration of the inquiry.

For people on our register

  • Keep them informed via our newsletters on any relevant inquiries related to their work.
  • Explain the actions we are taking following recommendations from an inquiry.

For employers and trusts involved in inquiries

  • Provide support for people who employ nurses, midwives and nursing associates through our Employer Link Service. This includes Trusts, Boards and Integrated Care Boards.

Other action we take

  • Report to Council once a year on our inquiries activity.
  • Horizon scan for intelligence on any inquiries to understand how we should be supporting them.
  • Work with stakeholders to share intelligence on issues.