New emotional and practical support service launched for nursing and midwifery professionals involved in fitness to practise

Published on 10 October 2019

Launching today (Thursday 10 October 2019), on World Mental Health Day, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is introducing a 12-month Careline pilot

Nurses, midwives and nursing associates involved in fitness to practise can now benefit from a new, free and confidential support service.

The new resource is operated by an independent provider and comes less than a year since the professional regulator set up its support service for members of the public who raise concerns when things go wrong with their nursing or midwifery care.

Now, through the NMC’s Careline, emotional and practical support is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for nurses and midwives across the UK, and nursing associates in England, who are involved in fitness to practise processes.

Choosing from either Freephone, LiveChat or Email, professionals can contact specially trained counsellors, anonymously if preferred, who are experienced in handling sensitive topics.

While NMC staff will remain the direct point of contact for all case specific enquiries, the Careline offers advice on general concerns, as well as signposting professionals to other appropriate health or wellbeing services that can help with their individual needs.

Meanwhile, as part of the NMC’s new approach to creating a more open, fair and learning culture, new guidance is also being finalised to help those on the register better understand how they can demonstrate they are fit to practise in the event a complaint is made against them. This might include reflecting on what went wrong and undertaking extra training.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said:

“Following the launch last year of our Public Support Service for people affected by poor nursing or midwifery care, I’m really pleased we’re now able to offer this new pilot resource for professionals.

“The Careline marks another important step forward in truly humanising how we operate and becoming the person-centred professional regulator that the NMC is determined to be with everyone we interact with.

“Less than one percent of around 700,000 professionals on our register are engaged in our fitness to practise procedures, but we know that it can have a profound effect on those that are. The impact on someone’s physical and mental wellbeing as a result of being under such scrutiny mustn’t go unrecognised.

“I hope the Careline, and our forthcoming remediation guidance, further encourages support and learning when things do go wrong in nursing and midwifery care. Together, let’s help ensure that all those involved in our processes are treated with kindness and respect.”

Health Minister, Nadine Dorries, said:

"Fitness to practise proceedings can be emotionally draining for the patients and families involved, but also the clinicians – facing one of the hardest and most mentally draining periods of their career. Opening the doors for them to have round-the-clock access to specially trained counsellors is an important step in safeguarding their wellbeing.

“On World Mental Health Day, the Careline pilot is another positive move in prioritising the mental and physical health of dedicated NHS and social care employees across the country.”

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said:

"For any registrant, going through fitness to practise can be a stressful and traumatising experience and we are pleased to see the NMC develop a pilot which could offer extra assistance to those who get referred to the regulator.

“By offering support with the emotional impact of being investigated, Careline, alongside the RCN’s own dedicated member legal advice and support services, can ensure that the wellbeing and mental health of all registrants is put front and centre."

Suzanne Tyler, Executive Director of Services to members at the Royal College of Midwives, said:

"Whilst only a small number of midwives find themselves in a fitness to practise procedure, for those involved it can be a very worrying process and have an impact on their mental and physical health.

“The Careline will enhance the key support for midwives provided by the RCM when its members are going through this process."

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers which is part of the NHS Confederation, said:

"Nurses, nursing associates and midwives can understandably find fitness to practise investigations stressful.

"The NMC’s Careline will be helpful in ensuring their emotional wellbeing is considered and supported during what can be a difficult and sometimes lengthy process and we welcome the NMC taking action to better support registrants."


For further media enquiries, please contact the NMC press office on 0207 681 5415 or email

Further background

  1. Find out more about our Careline and the Public Support Service
  2. The Careline pilot is run by independent provider, CiC
  3. New remediation guidance to help nurses, midwives and nursing associates going through fitness to practise is due to publish in November.
  4. Read about our new approach to Fitness to Practise (FtP) including information on remediation.

About the NMC

We are the independent regulator for nurses, midwives and nursing associates. We hold a register of all the 690,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates who can practise in the UK. Better and safer care for people is at the heart of what we do, supporting the healthcare professionals on our register to deliver the highest standards of care.

We make sure nurses, midwives and nursing associate have the skills they need to care for people safely, with integrity, expertise, respect and compassion, from the moment they step into their first job.

Learning does not stop the day nurses, midwives and nursing associates qualify. To promote safety and public trust, we require professionals to demonstrate throughout their career that they are committed to learning and developing to keep their skills up to date and improve as practitioners.

We want to encourage openness and learning among healthcare professions to improve care and keep the public safe. On the occasions when something goes wrong and people are at risk, we can step in to investigate and take action, giving the people affected and their families a voice as we do so.

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