This is a direct account from a member of NMCWatch who has consented for us to publish, but who wishes to remain anonymous.
She had 27 charges against her, these were taken down to 10 at hearing and only 1 found proven. The whole process took over 3 years and the registrant had no recourse. She had raised serious concerns about the nursing home in question with both CQC and Social services but did not whistleblow officially. Her reward was to be referred to the NMC by CQC.
The home in question was eventually closed.
I have worked as a nurse for 25 years. I’ve worked in nursing homes since I qualified. I’ve worked my way up to Quality and Regional Manager working with homes in administration or those who needed support to improve services, for seven years. All went well without issues until my last year of employment in 2015. This is when I was referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The CQC referred me and all nurses involved in the home because it did not improve in the timescale set by them on inspection. They also referred my line manager and the owner but as they were not on the nursing register they were not held to account by the NMC. Most of the charges were about audit and policies but one involves not escalating to a doctor in time even though I directed another nurse to do so.
It has taken two years to get this far and finally I have a date for a hearing which will be five weeks over Feb and March this year.
As a nurse I have reflected and I agree I could have done better and I realise I hold some responsibility for the lack of improvement. I was working across anywhere between 7 and 22 homes as the management team was changing. So I was in and out of the home whilst supporting other homes with issues.
My barrister told me not to engage with the NMC and whilst I am aware others go through this I feel embarrassed to tell people and so have no support. Reasons for the failure to improve sound like excuses when I say them and so I try not to talk about it.
I joined (NMCWatch) to support others going through this but also to make a change so that there is a better way to get nursing right.
I resigned from the company that had the troubles and was working my notice when CQC came to inspect. The referral on top of my failure to improve the home caused me to leave nursing but I missed it. When I tried to get a new job most employers would not touch me as I was honest. This can leave a nurse at risk of joining a company that will not support good practice. I was lucky to be interviewed by a manager who had experience of NMC referral herself. I now work with nurses who love improvement and care for patients and I love nursing again.
I denied all charges as in the 8.5 months I was in the company I was only acting Manager two months and the rest of the time I was supporting 22 homes with just my line manager and me. I made suggestions for improvement, i.e. close the nursing unit, change the agency, but it wasn’t done due to economic reasons I guess. There were something like ten Manager/Support Managers over a space of 18 months so how can staff follow instruction? As for the failure to call a doctor it’s my word only that I requested the nurse to do so but it was me who called the doctor on the Monday when I returned from a weekend off having bobbed in on the Saturday to make sure the doctor had been and no meds needed collecting.
I am now 18 months in my new job and things are improving all the time in the home I’m in so I hope that shows the NMC I can do it. Plus I went from a Regional role to a staff nurse role so I could update my skills and give myself time to reflect etc.
I have all the evidence wise in a file and fortunately I did a reflection on the events shortly after leaving the company. I didn’t think about electronic back up of policies etc as it wasn’t my property to take with me when I left but because I have no proof I can’t argue that the policies and procedures weren’t in place. It was part of my job to update it all but I have no evidence that I told the boss this.
I left all my work diary and notebooks with the company. They are destroyed I assume.
I don’t know how people without union reps and barristers deal with this or how they afford the time off. My hearing with the NMC means I will have to have five weeks off work at a time I really need to be there and I will lose salary. I’m lucky I have someone who can support me financially otherwise I would be in real trouble. I thought about just admitting the charges and taking the sanction but I feel that the CQC and NMC need to recognise the issues around companies that don’t input into troubled homes and how some of the nurses really try hard despite the odds. The home ran on agency nurses and had six different people in charge over eight months. How was that supposed to work?
9 Feb 2018
Well this has been a “fun” week. I was due to have my preliminary hearing on Monday 12th as my defendant barrister wanted to complain about paperwork. Turns out the NMC have an extra nine witnesses and associated paperwork which they delivered Monday morning. They deferred the meeting to Thursday as the NMC decided they wanted to delay the hearing and invite their witnesses. The Chair asked for a timeline of finding witnesses etc. On Thursday the meeting started late so I sat waiting for a result which arrived today at 11am.
The hearing is postponed so you can imagine how happy I am. My company have backfilled my post for six weeks so I have upset two colleagues. I had organised and paid for accommodation during my hearing so I have now wasted that money. I now have to wait to see when the hearing will be rescheduled.
9 Oct 2018
Had a day in London with my barrister today. He seems very relaxed at seeing the case. Not even fussed by additional charges (10 more) they are all a bit vague.
Still it sends shivers down my spine as it gets closer. The case will be 7-8 weeks as it’s three of us being heard together.
So now stood on a busy train doing my breathing exercises so I keep calm and don’t let it affect my current job.
24 April 2019
Finally we have got to the last day of the hearing. Today I hear if my one remaining charge ( all others were thrown out ) constitutes misconduct. If it does they then have to decide if l am impaired to practice. It’s taken taken 3 years to get here.
It’s been an interesting experience for me and the nurses I work with now who I have updated on everything as it has happened to hopefully help them learn too.
Later that day…
The decision is back. The panel decided there was misconduct on the one remaining charge as it was proven. But they have said my practice is not impaired so after three years it is all over and my record is clean. I am pleased but also angry as I feel the misconduct was there to satisfy any public interest in the case and to avoid the PSA trying to overturn it.
The RCN have asked me to give them facts and figures to present to the NMC as to why my case should never have come before them and to try to get some compensation for loss of earnings.
21 Jan 2020
I love the NMC. I have had four years of fun not knowing if I would have a PIN or job etc and now it’s all over and nearly at my 1st anniversary of being found fit to practice they want me to act as a witness !!!!
The anxiety from the envelope was startling to me and now I have to talk to them again and bring memories of my case back.
To be fair the investigating officer recognised it may be “distressing” to revisit this.
On Friday I had to do a witness statement for NMC, for a case that related to mine (for those who are new I was found fit to practice after having 27 or so charges). The reason I wanted to comment is that the investigators attitude was different to any I’ve had before. She appeared genuinely interested in the culture of the company I worked for and the situation in the home. The company was not good and the home was chaotic so this is bound to have impacted on the person I was asked to talk about.
This information was requested by the investigator so hopefully will be taken into consideration for the person being looked at.
Could this be the start of their new way of viewing nurses’ actions. I like to think so – shame it didn’t happen with my case though.
Thanks for reminding me about the RCN taking things up with the NMC – I haven’t heard anything so will follow it up. I won’t hold my breath!!