Nursing and Midwifery Council Support or Rhetoric

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2011 Health Care Service Group Conference
2 December 2010
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that registered nurses have an obligation under the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Code of Conduct to formally raise any concerns they have about patient safety. This is also incorporated into the NHS Constitution (England). We also note the importance of raising concerns about poor standards of patient care, in the wake of the Francis Report into standards of care in Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

The NMC recently issued new guidance on raising and escalating concerns. Within the document it is stated that the NMC ‘exists to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public.’ The guidance also states that this protection is afforded by the NMC’s maintenance of a register of all nurses and midwives and by the provision of standards for education, training and conduct. It also suggests that staff can contact their trade union who has the ability to raise matters formally with the organisation on behalf of the staff member..

UNISON has and will continue to address concerns raised by members with the employer. However, if members of staff have raised concerns regarding safe practice with their employer and no action is taken to enable nurses to practice safely, then the NMC, as the regulatory body should have the authority to intervene and enter discussion with that employer, if necessary in collaboration with other regulators.

The aim of nursing is to promote health, restore health, alleviate suffering and prevent illness. Research has demonstrated time and time again that the higher the ratio of nurses to patients the better the care outcomes. However within an ever-changing political and with significant financial challenges, NHS employers are it would seem re-prioritising their aims and objectives with the focus moving from patient to finance putting the balance sheet before quality of care. Low staffing levels lead to poor patient care outcomes and low staff morale and create a vicious circle of demoralisation and the loss of caring and compassionate staff from the NHS.

Staff would feel more confident and more protected if they felt that their concerns were listened to and acted upon by their employer.

Conference believes that the NMC should be proactive in dealing with registrants’ concerns.

This Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to explore these issues with the NMC with a view to ensuring the NMC works more closely with other healthcare regulators and also regulatory bodies responsible for inspecting the service, including amongst others such as the Care Quality Commission and Quality Improvement Scotland, in addressing systemic shortcomings rather than those of individual registrants.