Many of you have said you are willing to write to your Member of Parliament in order to try to raise the profile of the issues we are raising.
Feel free to use this template:
Date: [relevant date]
To: [Name of your MP]
By email: [Your MP’s email address]
Dear [Name of your MP]
I am writing in regard to my concerns about our regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). I am a member of a voluntary support group NMCWatch: registrant care CIC which supports nurses and midwives like me who are undergoing investigation by the NMC.
NMCWatch was set up over 4 years ago by Cathryn Watters, following her own experience with the NMC when she was struck off the register for an administrative error. You can read more about the case here:
and her blog about the impact it had her:
My own case …….
NMCWatch engages with the NMC, PSA and unions to try to change mindsets and make improvements to the Fitness to Practice process. However, as a voluntary group, we have no power to ensure things change appropriately, effectively, and in a reasonable timeframe.
With recent ‘scandals’, we see large investigations occur but no changes in workplace behaviour. We believe the current referral process to the NMC enables workplace culture to continue to alienate and bully whistleblowers.
We urgently hope for an independent review of the Nursing and Midwifery Council as we believe they are causing additional harm to nurses and midwives undergoing the Fitness to Practice Investigatory Process.
Nursing must have a regulator and we are aware that the review of all of the regulatory bodies “Promoting Professionalism, reforming Regulation” is still pending. However, as we have seen in recent media coverage, the current system is failing miserably and is neither protecting the public or the registrants and ultimately is putting both group’s lives at risk. The current systems leaves it wide open to abuse by vexatious managers or colleagues with a grudge.
The NMC decisions affect many nurses and midwives who have previously had no issues raised and unblemished careers, many for a number of decades. Many of those going through it are doing so on issues not related to patient harm.
The profession is struggling to retain experienced nurses and midwives. Recent figures show an up to 45% increase in nurses leaving the profession than joining it. MP Jonathan Ashworth recently presented to Parliament figures of 90 nurses leaving the profession a day.
The NMC have published information on the numbers currently on the register and although increased there is “a distinct demographic trend” – that the register is ageing. It now shows the number of people on the register approaching retirement age is growing quicker than the number of those under 30. From 1 April to 30 September, the number of those in the 61-65 age bracket grew by 2,220 (5.57%) compared to 1,659 (1.48%) in the 21-30 age group”
Figures available for 2018 show the NMC had regulated 690,278 registrants. Since 2008, they have sanctioned, impaired and struck off 10,895 nurses and midwives. Studies show worse sanctioning to the nursing profession than to doctors, with doctors less likely to get struck off for dishonesty than other professions. The GMC confirmed at the IMMDS review on 14th March 2019. that “NMC registrants who have been impaired, sanctioned and struck off do not contest & instead, walk away from charges as they are “not litigious like GMC registrants”
Figures presented to IMMDS review panel comparing the GMC and NMC annual sanctions showed that nurses are 3 times more likely to get sanctioned than their doctor colleagues. Even for those registrants that the NMC finds no case to answer at the end of their investigation, many will leave as a result, those that remain are likely to work at a lower level than before and are likely to have ongoing mental health issues to battle with.
Since 2008 – 2019 there have only been 22 successful appeals against NMC decisions by registrants at High Court Appeal and 10 out of the 22 were self-litigants between these dates, 5 of these are members of our group. The recent case of Helen Lovett shows the NMC have internal mechanism to review cases and yet this is never done on behalf of a registrant who feels the case was too harsh – the NMC will only advise they can appeal via the courts which for many is untenable.
We have an ongoing survey of our members and it brings startling results on the impact FtP has on those going through it:
· over half stated that their mental health was the most affected by referral to NMC
· 93% stated they did not know where to go for support
· 96% stated having difficulty sleeping as a result of FtP
· 79% suffered acute anxiety
· 90% stated poor self confidence as an impact
· 89% stated difficult trusting people as an impact
· 75% stated they had feelings of paranoia as an impact
· 72% stated having mood swings as an impact
· 64% suffered from suicidal thoughts
The current system creates fear and a lack of transparency. Living in fear of your regulator does not promote safe practice. A process of luck and decent employer determines whether you are called in-front of the NMC.
As a group we are calling to members of Parliament and Key figures to action the following:
1. The law instructing the FtP process is changed back to the Criminal Standard rather than the Civil Standard as currently the “on the balance of Probabilities” is wider open for interpretation and inconsistency in sanctioning.
2. ALL registrants, undergoing FtP are to be provided with legal representation regardless of their financial ability to fund it themselves.
3. The NMC to hold a duty of care over their registrants to “Do No Harm” to vulnerable registrants undergoing FtP and to hold clear records of any registrants that commit suicide / die whilst under investigation.
4. A standard sum of renumeration on appeal regardless of whether the registrant is represented by legal counsel or not that includes loss of earnings.
5. When “no case to answer” or charges not proven the registrant is remunerated for loss of earnings
6. When “no case to answer” the referrer and the registrant are given a full report of the recommendations as to why the referral was unsuitable
7. For the NMC to automatically reimburse ALL witnesses for FtP hearings, including the registrant, on cost of travel to and from daily hearings, any loss of earnings on the days of the hearing and overnight accommodation if distance negates being able to travel home daily.
8. ANY registrant who is able to prove a history of raising concerns and / or whistleblowing prior to referral to the NMC has their salary protected during investigation periods.
9. Employers are unable to dismiss employees or enter into settlement agreements whilst FtP concerns are raised and the registrant salary is protected during investigatory periods
10. If individual’s, whether witness for the NMC or case presenter are found to be deliberately withholding evidence which may benefit the registrant’s case – the NMC will hold them to account by formally investigating and referring to the appropriate authorities.
Please assist in helping push for regulatory reform.