NewsIndependent review highlights safeguarding concerns at the NMC

Independent review highlights safeguarding concerns at the NMC

Workers at the NMC have experienced racism, discrimination and bullying, according to an independent culture review from Nazir Afzal OBE and Rise Associates.

The review gathered information on staff’s lived experience through surveys, focus groups and interviews from over 1000 current and former NMC colleagues, plus over 200 panel members who sit on fitness to practise hearings.

‘The culture in my Directorate is extremely toxic – my previous manager was forced out of her job due to the bullying, harassment and racism,’ said one respondent. ‘It set the standard of behaviour for the team namely do not raise concerns, do not raise issues and if you don’t like it leave, hence the fact that seven people have been recruited and subsequently left during the last two years.’

Further findings revealed that six people have died by suicide or suspected suicide since April 2023 while under, or having concluded, a fitness to practise investigation.

‘I am extremely sorry to hear the testimony of NMC colleagues who have shared their distressing experiences,’ said Chair of the Council, Sir David Warren. ‘I also apologise to those nurses, midwives, nursing associates, employers and members of the public for whom we have taken far too long to reach fitness to practise decisions.

‘We now have clear recommendations to take the organisation forward. I’m grateful to all our colleagues who have spoken up about these issues. I know that what matters to them now is action, not words.’

Based on the report’s recommendations, the NMC have decided on immediate actions, including:

  • the appointment of an equality, diversity and inclusion advisor on the Executive Board to support decision making;
  • a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian for colleagues in order to raise concerns and get support from a trained professional;
  • doubling the amount spent on learning and development in order to roll out improvements in leadership, safeguarding and casework.

The NMC’s executive safeguarding lead, Sam Foster, has also led an expansion of resources for the safeguarding team. This expansion includes increasing knowledge and training, and strengthening the regulator’s operating procedures, with work expected to be completed by September.

Alongside this work, the NMC will continue to deliver its £30 million 18-month plan to make a step change in fitness to practise, a procedure originally announced back in March.

Andrea Sutcliffe, who stepped down as Chief Executive and Registrar last week, said she is ‘devastated’:

‘Having received the draft of this important report three weeks after my decision to step down, I know there is powerful testimony from colleagues sharing their stories about racism, discrimination and bullying and their views of the NMC.

‘The NMC needs a step change in its culture to ensure everyone feels supported to thrive and all benefit from the better experience some already have. Regulation of nursing and midwifery professionals also needs to be consistently effective and truly person-centred […] I hope the recommendations from the report which I commissioned with the Chair will enable the Council and leadership team to ensure the NMC is a more effective regulator and a great employer for all where our values of fairness, kindness, ambition and collaboration are thoroughly embedded and lived.’

The full report can be found here.

Image | Shutterstock


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