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Blog: Blue sky thinking

In her latest blog, our Chief Executive, Andrea Sutcliffe, talks about our Fitness to practise strategy, attending her first Midwifery Panel and a visit to The Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

It felt like spring had sprung early this week - I can’t remember such a benign period of February weather although I fear the blue skies and early blossom trees are on borrowed time!


As well as regularly getting out and around the UK as part of my #ListeningMode journey, I have been spending time meeting with the many important teams and functions at the NMC.

The saying goes time flies when you are having fun, and while that definitely sums up my feeling of NMC life so far, it is still early days since I took up the privileged role as Chief Executive and Registrar and so, these are important meetings for my learning about the organisation - what we do and how we do it.


You might think that with the NMC’s clear purpose - of setting standards for nurses, midwives and nursing associates; registering them; supporting their revalidation and taking action if that’s necessary, all to ensure people can experience safer, better care – that our communications activity would be relatively simple. If only!

We work in a complex health and social care environment, across four countries and in all the different settings where our registrants provide care and support. The list of people and organisations interested in what we do or want to work with us, is huge – members of the public, groups that represent them, politicians, the national and regional press, academics, employers, registrants and our national partners and government officials in the four countries. That list is exhausting but perhaps not exhaustive as I am sure I have missed someone out. 

The work of the NMC’s External Affairs team is critical in helping the organisation explain what we do and how we do it and support our activities with the public, professionals and partners to help build and sustain public trust and confidence. None of that is easy for a regulator. But by focusing on the needs of people using services, together we will work to achieve it.

Fitness to practise strategy

Last week, I was lucky enough to join a meeting focussing on our Fitness to practise strategy.

I had read the papers before but nothing beats seeing and hearing the enthusiasm for a new way of doing things to really understand what we are aiming to achieve. I left feeling energised and impressed after listening to the elements of the strategy and progress on the various pilots underway – supporting better local action by employers so that the NMC gets better quality referrals; direct, personal responses to members of the public who raise concerns; taking better account of the context in which a problem has occurred; enabling remediation; and making better use of hearings.

It also resonated for me with the topic of my blog last week about professional regulation and kindness. The strategy, while not articulated necessarily as kindness, can be seen as being about treating people well, both members of the public and registrants. Some of the practical approaches, a telephone call to a family member raising a concern or seeking to avoid long, drawn-out and un-necessary procedures, will all help in treating people with dignity and respect.

Midwifery Panel

Another highlight from last week was my first meeting of the Midwifery Panel. This group brings together the four Chief Nursing Officers or their representatives, midwives and lay representatives together with NMC Council members and staff involved to ensure the voice of all things midwifery is heard. The panel is expertly chaired by Anna van der Gaag who guided us skilfully through a packed agenda.

We heard from Jackie Dunkley-Bent, the lead for midwifery in NHS England about how their Better Births strategy will bridge into the Long Term Plan and their ambitions for the future. There is a lot for them to do and I am sure that the implementation of the future midwife standards will be a key support in enabling midwives to play their part as the plans develop.

We also touched on our ongoing consultation on the future of midwifery and I really enjoyed the debates and the insight we gained from panel members. 


Andrea visit to liverpoolA week ago today I was at the latest stop on my #ListeningMode tour visiting services to meet registrants and learn about their work, challenges and views of the NMC. I visited The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which you may have seen on TV, and spent the day with senior nurse leaders, emergency department and community services staff and visiting the new site which they hope to move into in the next couple of years. All of that was great (complete with fetching boots, hard hats, plastic safety glasses and fluorescent jackets when on the building site!) but the real highlight was the final session of the day.

In the morning the Director of Nursing, Colin, said that their Learning Disability Nursing Team was their “jewel in the crown” – how right he was!  There are only two of them, Ged and Serena, and they met us with a student on placement, Lauren.  Their passion and commitment for the people they support was inspirational. They identify and support anyone with a learning disability or autism who comes to the hospital ensuring that staff are confident in meeting all their needs. This leads to a much better experience, has drastically reduced length of stay and is clearly welcomed by their acute nursing colleagues.  I could have listened to them talking about their work for hours! If you want to know more read this blog from Ged that describes the week of a Learning Disability nurse.

And finally…

For those who are celebrating St David’s Day today then I will end by simply wishing you “Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus” (which I am reliably informed is Happy St. David’s Day in Welsh – I hope so!)


As I was finalising this blog I learnt that tragically Ged’s wife died in a car crash this week. I cannot begin to imagine the pain for him and his young family and I am sure I speak for everyone at the NMC and the wider nursing and midwifery community in sending our love and deepest sympathy to Ged.

Other recent news…

Blog: Reintroducing our emergency standards

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, talks about our announcement to reintroduce our emergency standards and what this means for students

NMC updates approach to supporting nursing and midwifery education amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Find out about changes to our emergency education standards