New guidance clarifies freedom of expression for nursing and midwifery professionals

Published on 11 December 2023

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has published updated guidance on freedom of expression.

While aimed primarily at decision makers in our fitness to practise process, the guidance also provides clarity to nurses, midwives and nursing associates, to support them to express their beliefs appropriately.

The guidance reaffirms that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and to freedom of expression. However, there may be circumstances where a professional says or does something that could impact their fitness to practise, meaning we may need to take action. 

The guidance was developed following engagement with our key partners, and includes examples to help our decision makers approach cases in a consistent way that is rooted in the law. This takes into account where and to whom comments were made, whether there is a link to someone’s professional practice or status as a nurse, midwife or nursing associate, and the way in which the views or beliefs were expressed.

Matthew McClelland, Executive Director of Strategy and Insight at the NMC, said:

“At the NMC, we firmly believe that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. Our Code requires nurses, midwives, and nursing associates to put the people in their care first. That means treating people with kindness and respect and not expressing their personal beliefs in an inappropriate way.

“Occasionally, concerns are raised about the way in which someone on our register has expressed themselves so it’s important our decision makers in fitness to practise are clear on the right way to reach swift and safe decisions that are rooted in law.

“In turn, we hope this will provide clarity to nurses, midwives and nursing associates about how to express their beliefs without raising concerns about their fitness to practise or damaging public confidence in our nursing and midwifery professions.”

You can read our full guidance here


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