Blog: Andrea Sutcliffe's five reflections on five years

Published on 06 March 2024

This week we’ve launched our #OurCode student campaign. Students and newly qualified professionals from across the UK have shared thoughts on what it means to live by the Code and how they use it to deliver safe, effective, and kind care for people.

I’m loving reading their stories and I’m always so energised when I meet students, listen to their experiences, answer their challenges, hear their aspirations. Often, we have students at our open Council meetings and in January a group from the University of Leicester visited. Over lunch I was asked for my two top tips for students.   

As it happens, I’m in a reflective mood. January marked my five years in post at the NMC and this month I turn 60. I thought I’d expand on my answer with some learning from the past 5 years and what that’s taught me for the future: 

One: It’s all about the people. 

This is what I share with new colleagues when they join the NMC. It’s vital we remember that at the heart of everything we do are people receiving care across the UK, and the amazing professionals on our register who deliver that care. 

It was also my first tip for the Leicester students, and you can see it in the stories being shared in the #OurCode campaign. The examples they give talk of treating people with kindness and compassion. Of communicating effectively – seeking to understand people’s individual circumstances and respecting their decisions. 

These are elements of the Code that underpin all nursing and midwifery practice, but you could say they apply to all of us, registered or not! We don’t always get things right, and I certainly don’t. Frankly, who does? But keeping people at the centre of all we do keeps us on the right track.  

Two: Leadership means listening, learning and acting. 

Last year we published stories from nursing and midwifery leaders about what good leadership means to them. 

They talk about listening, supporting teams, creating inclusive environments, taking accountability, learning from mistakes and being a role model.  

My own reflection is that leadership is all those things and more. It also means acknowledging when a problem arises; accepting responsibility to do something about it; getting on with it and trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I hope that’s what I’ve demonstrated since I took over this role, and it’s certainly what will continue to guide me.  

Three: “Your voice is your power, use it wisely”.  

This quote sums up my third reflection perfectly. At the NMC we want to use intelligence from our regulatory work to positively influence learning.  

We certainly need to do that wisely. We’re not a campaigning, membership organisation. As an independent regulator we need to root our voice in evidence to have impact, like when we shine a spotlight on nursing and midwifery or help produce an anti-racism resource for NHS nursing and midwifery professionals 

Four: There’s always more to do!  

It’s fair to say the challenges for students, nurses, midwives and nursing associates and the NMC keep on coming. But looking back at the last five years, I’ve seen professionals on our register make an enormous difference to people’s lives – not least during the pandemic. l know with hard work and commitment, the NMC, current and future professionals on our register will continue to do brilliant things that improve care for people.  

Five: The Beatles nailed it in 1967. Our work wouldn’t be possible without “a little help from my friends”.   

My final tip for the Leicester students was to enjoy what you do – we spend too much time at work to be miserable. My enjoyment comes from a sense of purpose towards the public we’re here to serve, and the professionals we’re here to support. But also, from the people I work with who share that vision.  

The list of colleagues within the NMC, professionals across nursing and midwifery, partners in the world of health and social care and members of the public who’ve helped shape the work of the NMC and shown me much kindness is a long one – too long to include in a short blog like this. But to every one of you, thank you for your generosity, challenge, and support. 

There’s a lot for the NMC to achieve and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next chapter brings for us all.   

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