In August 2022 Elly was referred to the NMC by an anonymous colleague. This colleague did not raise their concerns with the workplace and waited until Elly had left employment and secured another role elsewhere to refer her to the NMC. The referer did not raise these concerns with Elly’s new workplace.
The NMC told Elly of the referral immediately stating that concerns were raised about her administration of medicines and her clinical competence to do so. The complaint also raised concerns about her documentation and honesty. This was a shock to Elly as nothing had been raised to her directly. She immediately discussed with her old and new managers to see if she could establish what the concerns were regarding – neither could throw any light on it. Both managers provided evidence to the NMC to show they had no concerns and Elly’s current practice was excellent.
Elly came to us as she was unsure of the NMC process and what could happen, she felt isolated despite having the support of her managers and was worried about the future. She was understandably angry too and confused at the thought of a colleague referring her so easily without raising concerns with her or her managers first.
Elly is an overseas nurse – we do not know if this played a part in her referral.
We worked with Elly to explain the process and why the NMC would be investigating. We helped her to build her portfolio to show the NMC that the allegations were unfounded and to reassure them that her practice was safe. We also worked with her to help her reflect respect for the process and why, although very frustrating, it was important for the NMC to take the allegations seriously.
After 3 months her case was closed at screening. The NMC stating
“Having reviewed all the documentation we have concluded that we don’t have evidence of a serious concern that could require us to take regulatory action against XXX to protect the public. We thank XXX and employer X for responding to our requests for information to assist us with our enquiries into the concerns raised.
This case study has shown the following lessons:
- It is important for registrants to engage early in the process with the NMC and their employer
- Having an employer who supports you through the process is vital to show no current risk and give evidence to refute allegations
- Vexatious referrals are hard to prove but may arise from workplace disputes or workplace jealousy. The NMC has a difficult role to not play into this whilst still investigating neutrally and proportionately
- It is easy for registrants to get consumed by anger or flight / fight reaction and avoid facing the process – this can lead to worse outcomes. Registrants need to maintain professionalism and engage but seek peer-to-peer support to cope with the emotional reaction that referral brings.
- Whilst the screening, case examiner and early parts of the FtP process are improving to be more person-centred, this is still not routine. Therefore registrants need advice that will prepare them to be informed of what they need to do to get a positive outcome.
- The NMC need to address the issue of vexatious referrals and have a policy to deal with this appropriately