New helpline supports people considering a referral

Published on 08 March 2023

We’ve launched a dedicated helpline supporting members of the public who are thinking about raising a concern about a nurse, midwife or nursing associate.

While fitness to practise concerns only affect a tiny minority of professionals on our register, we receive more than 5,000 referrals each year. In 2021-2022, we closed 78 percent of new concerns at initial assessment – this can be because the person referred is not on our register, or we don’t receive enough evidence to enable us to start an investigation.

Our new helpline is the first step for members of the public thinking about making a referral to us. Our expert call handlers will guide people on making the right referrals and including all the information we need to make a decision quickly and safely. Where we’re not the right organisation for a particular concern, we’ll steer the caller toward those better placed to help.

We hope this will mean we get the information we need to be able to act. By making quicker decisions we can keep people safe, and reduce the impact of our processes on everyone involved.

The helpline is the latest in a series of improvements to our fitness to practise process. These include a new online resource supporting employers to manage concerns locally, and a new approach to taking account of context when concerns are raised with us.

Sophie is one of the NMC’s team of call handlers who have supported more than 850 people during a successful pilot phase, including 303 people in February. Sophie said:

“We receive a wide range of calls, and whatever the scenario, the key thing we’re able to provide is reassurance. The people we speak to have often had difficult experiences and want to know how their voices can be heard. We’re here to listen to their concerns and either guide them on making a complete referral, or steer them toward another organisation better placed to help.”

Lesley Maslen, NMC Executive Director of Professional Regulation, said:

“Anyone thinking about raising a concern with us will have been going through a difficult time, and perhaps still are. Our new referrals helpline is an important first step for anyone in this situation.

“Our dedicated call handlers will listen to people, and can help explain more about who we are, how we can help and most importantly, what support we can offer. Then, if someone is ready to make a referral, we can guide them to give us everything we need to make the right decision as quickly and safely as possible.”

Anybody concerned about a nurse, midwife or nursing associate can call the NMC’s referral helpline on 020 3307 6802.

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