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NMC signals its commitment to culture of openness and learning

25 July 2018

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has today agreed a new approach to resolving concerns about nurses’ and midwives’ practice. The changes signal the regulator’s commitment to moving away from a blame culture towards a just culture in health and social care.

The NMC’s focus is on reducing risks to patients and service users in the future by encouraging openness and learning, not on punishing nurses and midwives for past mistakes.

The changes are about putting people at the centre of the fitness to practise process. This will make sure the regulator treats patients and families with compassion and respect, and properly listens to and resolves their concerns about nurses and midwives. There will be better information and support for patients and families, and a rolling programme of training and development for NMC employees.

The NMC will work more closely with employers so that as many issues as possible can be resolved quickly and effectively at a local level. Greater consideration will be given to the context in which incidents occur in recognition of the complex issues and pressures nurses and midwives face every day.

When concerns are raised with the regulator, nurses and midwives will be encouraged to be open about what has happened and to talk to the NMC as early as possible about what they have done to put things right. If more action is needed, the regulator will seek to agree with the nurse or midwife what steps they need to take before they are fit to practise safely and professionally.

In many cases, a full public hearing may not be needed, which will reduce the burden on everyone involved, especially patients and families who may otherwise have to relive distressing experiences. Full reasons for the NMC’s decisions will be published so there is transparency about what steps have been taken to manage public protection risks and why.

Matthew McClelland, Director of Fitness to Practise, said:

“These plans set a new direction for the NMC and will help to bring about a just culture in the health and care sector.

“It’s clear we needed to change and improve our approach to help keep people safe and support nurses and midwives to practise safely and professionally. Our plans put the voices of patients and families at the heart of what we do and place a much greater emphasis on openness and learning to help reduce risk for the future.”

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Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries, please contact the NMC press office on 020 7681 5649 or email media@nmc-uk.org.
  2. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent professional regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK. We exist to protect the public. We do this by maintaining the register of qualified nurses and midwives and setting standards of education, training, conduct and performance. We make sure that nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date through a regular revalidation process. If concerns are raised about the standards of a registered nurse or midwife, we have a duty to investigate and, where necessary, take action to protect the public.