NMC response to concerns raised in The Independent

Published on 26 September 2023

We take the whistleblowing concerns raised extremely seriously and are committed to responding in an open and transparent way.

On 26 September, whistleblowing concerns raised about the NMC were the subject of an article in The Independent online newspaper.

We know that people will have questions about the concerns that have been raised, how we are responding to them and our regulatory work.

Below is a statement from our Chief Executive and Registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe:

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said: 

“First and foremost, I’m sorry there’s concern from anyone about our culture at the NMC. It’s essential that people feel able to speak up without fear and I’m grateful that these concerns have been raised with us and I take them extremely seriously. 

“Our priority is always the safety of people who use health and care services, and ensuring that is central to our fitness to practise work.  

“Of course, there is absolutely no place for sexual misconduct in health and care or wider society and we are equally clear that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated at the NMC.  

“We’ve taken steps to strengthen our ways of working in these areas, as well as in fitness to practise more broadly. However, we know we have much more to do and work is actively underway. We are committed to being an organisation that learns and improves. 

“We will carefully investigate all of the concerns raised in line with our established procedures. We will be transparent about the findings of that work including any further actions that we plan to take. 

“I want to reaffirm my personal commitment to developing a safe and inclusive working environment where all our colleagues are supported to thrive so we can effectively deliver on our primary purpose to protect the public. While we have made progress over the years I’m sorry it’s taking longer than we’d all want but I am resolutely focused on continuing to improve.” 

Further information

Whistleblowing

  • The NMC’s approach to handling whistleblowing concerns can be found here: whistleblowing-public-interest-disclosure.pdf (nmc.org.uk)
  • The Chair of the NMC’s Council is aware of the concerns, as are our two Council members with oversight of how whistleblowing cases are responded to.
  • We’re in the process of securing independent experts to investigate the raised concerns and will be transparent about the scope of that work and the findings.

FtP and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the NMC

  • Our own oversight body, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), reviews all final decisions made by our independent fitness to practise panels. 
  • Our data shows that anyone on our register who is found to have proven allegations of sexual misconduct is highly likely to be struck off.
  • We are actively reviewing our guidance for decision makers in regard to cases involving sexual misconduct, domestic violence, domestic abuse and safeguarding issues, to help ensure the right decisions are made to keep the public safe. Engagement with stakeholders and the public is already underway.
  • We have strengthened our guidance in relation to cases involving racial discrimination, and have delivered comprehensive training to our legal professionals and decision-makers in support of this, as well as on wider equality, diversity and inclusion and safeguarding issues.
  • We have undertaken a programme of research, ‘ambitious for change’, to assess the impact our regulatory processes have on different groups of professionals. As part of the steps we’re taking to address the findings, we have commissioned an independent review to see whether bias is playing any role in the disparities found within our fitness to practise decision making process.
  • Our published equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) plan sets out how we will tackle discrimination and inequality and to promote diversity and inclusion. It also recognises that we’re on an improvement journey and there’s more we can do. 
  • A neutral assessment was carried out by an independent expert starting in April 2022 and reporting in August 2022, to understand how people feel within their team and wider organisation. It looks at the reasons behind any concerns that people may have and sets out what may need to change so that everyone can experience productive working relationships and be part of a positive workplace culture.  The report was shared with the team involved. A summary of the findings and the actions we’re taking can be found here.

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