What we mean by context

We know it’s important that our processes and decisions we make support a culture of fairness, openness and learning.

The complexity of health and social care settings means that sometimes concerns that seem to be the result of poor individual practice are actually caused by system pressures or other factors.

This means we need to look beyond the actions of an individual and understand the role of other people, the culture and environment you were working in when something went wrong.

Only then can we identify what needs to happen to keep people safe in the future - even if we're not the ones who can take that action.

Our approach to context

We've developed a set of context commitments we'll apply whenever we investigate and deal with concerns that are raised with us.

  • We’ll approach cases on the basis that most people that are referred to us are normally safe to practise
  • We’ll seek to build an accurate picture about the nurse, midwife or nursing associate’s practising history
  • We’ll always consider any evidence of discrimination, victimisation, bullying or harassment
  • Where risks are caused by system and process failures, we’ll concentrate on the action we can take to help resolve the underlying issues
  • In cases where a nurse, midwife or nursing associate was required to use their professional judgement we’ll respond proportionately
  • We’ll look for evidence of steps the nurse, midwife or nursing associate has taken to address serious concerns caused by a gap in knowledge or training or personal context factors
  • We’ll always look into whether group norms or culture influenced an individual’s behaviour before taking action
  • Where an incident has occurred because of cultural problems, we’ll concentrate on taking action to minimise the risk of the same thing happening again.

We know these commitments mustn’t be seen as separate from each other, and that the complexities of working in the health and social care sector mean it's inevitable that we might need to consider issues that span across different commitments.

Read more information on our context commitments.

When should you tell us about context?

We want to hear from you about any factors that you think could’ve had an impact on the events raised with us at the earliest point possible. This will help us properly understand whether there’s a risk to the public and if so what action to take.

A context form will be included in the email we send to notify you of a concern at the start of the process before the screening process begins. However, you can continue to provide context information later in the process, it just means it might take a little longer for us to get to the right decision.