Blog: Manchester in the sun

Published on 12 July 2019

In her latest blog, our Chief Executive, Andrea Sutcliffe, reflects on our Council meeting in Manchester and attending the Patient Safety Congress

Born in Yorkshire and brought up in the North East, I’d always regarded Manchester as being on the wrong side of the Pennines – and doesn’t it always rain there?  But after years of visiting for work events, the odd football match and birthday celebration, the city has stolen its way into my affections. I love the architecture, history, the vibrancy and resilience. So when we were considering taking the NMC Council meeting to Manchester, I jumped at the chance. I’m so glad we did.

Patient Safety Congress

Council at CongressI’d been invited to speak on a panel at the Patient Safety Congress and so that I could, we moved the Council meeting north. Council members and Executive Directors attended the first day of the Congress. What a fantastic learning and development opportunity that was for us all. Congratulations to Shaun Lintern, Agnes Jacobs and the HSJ team for hosting such a great event.

We heard from family members affected by poor care, clinicians and managers tackling difficult issues, leaders proposing solutions and the latest research. My favourite session was Civility Saves LivesDr Chris Turner shared the evidence base. For example, if someone experiences rudeness – 80% of recipients lose time worrying about the rudeness, 38% reduce the quality of their work, 48% reduce their time at work and 25% take it out on people using their service. Witnesses experience a 20% decrease in performance and a 50% decrease in performance.  As Chris pointed out, less effective clinicians provide poorer care.

Chris was followed by Dr Suzette Woodward (one of our registrants) who described a personal situation where someone at work was rude to her on an ongoing basis, how that felt and the impact it had. And finally, Jono Broad who leads on patient and public involvement for the South West Academic Health Science Network shared how it felt to be a patient when doctors and nurses argue over you.

It was a powerful session and links into the work Fitness to Practise colleagues are doing with the GMC about tackling unprofessional behaviours. While the lessons were being applied to clinical settings, it made me think that the key points apply to all of us at the NMC. Of course, none of us (least of all me) are saints and we will all have been rude at times through thoughtlessness, tiredness or irritation. But it is quite sobering to think about the impact that we can have.

Just Culture

The panel debate was the last session of the event and asked “how can the NHS balance system failure and individual error?” It started with David Sellu, a former surgeon sharing his story of being wrongly convicted of gross negligence manslaughter. In his presentation he was quite scathing of professional regulators saying that we were harmful to patient safety.

My fellow panel members were Dr Jenny Vaughan who led the campaign to overturn David Sellu’s verdict, Professor Sir Norman Williams and James Titcombe, whose baby Joshua died after being born at the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital.

Mr Sellu’s story was moving and I am glad that James was also able to share his experience as a family member bereaved by poor care. There are parallels in both stories about the impact on individuals seeking answers and justice and the need for health and care systems to create a culture where openness and learning can lead to improved care for all. This is at the heart of our new approach to fitness to practise and I was able to share how I believe professional regulation done well has a positive role to play in patient safety.

It was clear from feedback on social media that the session had provoked some soul-searching among the audience and a renewed commitment to creating a just culture where there is accountability and real change to address problems but where everyone affected is treated with dignity and respect.

Council meeting

We always get an audience for our public Council meetings in London but in Manchester there was definitely more of a crowd, including student nurses and midwives, local leaders, union representatives, educators and senior nurses. They witnessed a thorough going over of the executive team report which included our performance and risk register and a slew of annual reports the Council approved for publication later this month.

At the end of the meeting the audience were able to ask questions of their own – issues included the supernumerary status of students on clinical placements, how the NMC can connect better with students before they register, and a very appropriate challenge about the diversity of our executive team and Council.  

The feedback from attendees was really positive – they were glad we were in Manchester and appreciated seeing the challenge from Council members holding the executive team to account. This was my first experience of the Council meeting on the road and I am really looking forward to the next one in Scotland in October.

Manchester in the sun

Manchester in the sun








All in all it was a good couple of days – and the sun even shone!!

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