Volunteers needed to train in buddy scheme that will offer moral support to NMC registrants who are facing fitness to practise processes or workplace investigations
Nurses who have been through fitness to practise (FtP) investigations are being urged to come forward and support others as part of a new peer support scheme.
A 12-month trial called ‘Buddy – hold my hand’ will be set up later this month by NMC Watch, a campaign group that supports nurses facing Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) FtP processes or workplace investigations.
Those supported by the scheme will be offered monthly, virtual one-to-one meetings. The scheme will not offer legal advice but NMC Watch is in talks with the regulator to allow buddies to accompany registrants to meetings and hearings, to provide them with emotional support.
Emotional strain on nurses facing fitness to practise proceedings
There are long-standing concerns about the welfare of nurses involved in FtP cases. Research by NMC Watch suggests nurses under investigation can experience poor mental health, low self-esteem, and loss of personal and professional identity. The NMC’s 2018-19 annual report showed four nurses died by suicide while they faced FtP investigation.
The buddy scheme is backed by a £3,000 grant from the Laura Hyde Foundation, which was set up in memory of Royal Navy nurse Laura Hyde and campaigns for improved mental health support for healthcare staff.
Eight people are in training to be paired with registrants going through the FtP process or an employment dispute. Training covers mental health support, safeguarding procedures and where to signpost people for further help and advice.
NMC Watch founder Cathryn Watters said: ‘The main requirement for a buddy is that they are a practising nurse or midwife and they have been through an FtP process and their case is now closed,’ she said.
‘It would be good to have buddies who have different experiences.’
Ambition to extend nurse support scheme
Laura Hyde Foundation chair of trustees Liam Barnes said he was confident the pilot would deliver ‘extraordinary results and insight’ that would make the case for extending it further.
In 2019 the NMC set up a confidential, 24-hour careline service to provide counselling sessions for registrants going through FtP and in February published guidance for employers on preventing unnecessary referrals.
For more information contact Ms Watters on email@example.com.