Discrimination in health and care: learning from a recent fitness to practise case

Published on 17 November 2021

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We know that many people were concerned by the original decision we made in the case of nurse Melanie Hayes. We’re sorry that decision wasn’t the right one.

We’re committed to learning from this case, so that we get it right when we make decisions in future cases involving racism or discrimination.

We’ve found three main areas where we need to make improvements.

  • Our guidance needs to be stronger, so we’re consistent in what we mean by discrimination, bullying, victimisation and harassment, and how seriously allegations like this need to be taken.
  • While our colleagues and our independent panels have regular training on equality, diversity and inclusion, there’s more we can do to make sure colleagues and panels fully understand the impacts of discriminatory behaviour on a professional’s fitness to practice.
  • We need to review our support processes for managing complex and sensitive cases.

We’re taking steps to improve as a result.

  • Strengthening our guidance so we, and our independent panels, consider the nature of racism and discrimination as carefully as we should. We expect to make these changes before the end of 2021.
  • Introducing a new training package for colleagues and panellists.
  • Providing more guidance to colleagues who are preparing consensual panel determinations, including additional management support.

These learnings are detailed in a report that can be found in our latest Council papers published today. The Council will consider the report at its next meeting on 24 November.

Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“This report sets out what we’ve learned, what we’ve already done and what we plan to do to make sure we get it right when making decisions in cases concerning racism or any other form of discrimination in future.

“We’ve found there were things that went wrong in this case as it progressed to the final decision, mainly caused by gaps in our guidance and training. That shouldn’t have happened and we’re very sorry about the impact our decision had on people.

“We’ve already made significant improvements to our guidance. And we’re designing and delivering a comprehensive programme of training to prevent this from happening again. However, we recognise there’s a long way to go to secure people’s full trust and confidence in us as an anti-racist organisation but we are committed to getting there.”

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