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Mid Staffs whistleblower backs new NMC guidance on raising concerns

The nursing regulator is set to unveil updated guidance on raising concerns about patient safety, stating that doing so is an “unequivocal professional duty” of being a registered nurse or midwife.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council will publish new guidance on raising concerns this week at its latest council meeting on Thursday, where it will be publicly endorsed by former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust whistleblower Helene Donnelly.

Ms Donnelly will address the meeting about her experiences of raising concerns at Mid Staffordshire and her new role as ambassador for cultural change at Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust, where she works as a community nurse.

She said: “I’m pleased to support the revised guidance. I want to encourage nurses and midwives to understand their own professional responsibility to speak out when they have concerns about standards of care. 

“But there is much more that organisations need to do to make raising and dealing with concerns more straightforward,” she added.

Her presentation to the council meeting will be live streamed on the NMC website and will also be available for playback.

The main revisions to the NMC’s existing guidance from 2010 reflect legal changes and additional resources available to individuals who wish to raise concerns, such as information on organisations that can provide advice and support on how to take matters forward. 

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “We want a health and social care sector… where all staff can raise concerns without fear of reprisals.

“Nursing and midwifery managers need to understand their professional responsibility also includes taking honestly raised concerns seriously,” she said. “Every nurse, midwife and student should read the guidance.”

Nursing Times is currently running the Speak Out Safely campaign to improve protection for staff to raise legitimate concerns without fear of recrimination.

Are you able to Speak Out Safely? Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS.


Readers' comments (16)

  • michael stone

    I like the word 'unequivocal' - it is, well, unequivocal.

    I also like 'essential'.

    I tend to have problems with 'should'.

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  • Semantics aside, raising concerns about patient safety is already an "unequivocal professional duty", so what is new here?

    I fail to see how the bullying culture is being addressed here by an organisation which is legendary for, and completely poisoned by, its own systemic bullying. Make it safe for nurses to raise concerns. Transparency has to be apply at all levels. Too many of us are 'managed' by non-clinical unregistered business managers who have no responsibility to the NMC.

    Ms Donnelly needs to distance herself from this latest stunt, before her credibility completely evaporatates. She has become an Initiative Puppet. This is the NMC covering its tracks and beefing up its power over nurses without producing any measures to protect those who raise concerns.

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  • Anonymous | 9-Sep-2013 10:40 am

    I agree with every point you raise: nothing has changed in the NHS.

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  • "Anonymous | 9-Sep-2013 10:40 am- ....Ms Donnelly needs to distance herself from this latest stunt, before her credibility completely evaporates."


    maybe so, but don't all important movements for change start from small seeds? if she didn't speak out before, would we be were we are today? Only time will tell how this pans out, but surely its a good thing on the whole?

    Oh and by the way, there are just as many nursing care failures in non-NHS settings, so some consideration needs to be given to how to address professional standards there (private nursing homes, independent OccHealth practitioners etc).

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  • Anonymous | 9-Sep-2013 5:24 pm

    Let's be clear here. The Mid Staffs inquiries were sparked by families of the patients who suffered the poor care doled out to them (and only after years of campaigning) NOT by any nursing staff raising concerns. Helene Donnelly acted bravely and rightly in raising concerns. But she left her job (understandably) when she was not being listened to and was being bullied, and only came to public attention when she was called to give evidence in the Francis Inquiry. She did not start any movements for change. However, the spin doctors saw an opportunity and created a 'role' which sounds lovely, but actually holds no power whatsoever to change any policy. So what's the point of that? The spin doctors know that it LOOKS like they are doing something, when they are not. It would appear that the wool has been well and truly pulled over the eyes of many.

    Julie Bailey, whose mother died in appalling circumstances in the Stafford Hospital, was the chief campaigner who had years of having her concerns ignored, intimidation and death threats. It was her efforts, and those of other relatives of Mid Staffs victims, that resulted ultimately in the Francis Report.

    I agree that care failures occur in all sectors of healthcare, which is why I did not single out any particular one in my post. However, not all failures in care are due to 'nursing care failures'. That is important and gets missed all the time. It is one of the reasons that we have a nurse as 'ambassador for cultural change'. It places the focus for blame and solutions firmly on Nursing and deflects it away from the people, systems and management structures which make it impossible for nurses to protect their patients.

    Don't fall for it.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 9-Sep-2013 9:30 pm

    Eventually you still have to have someone/something making the decisions, so it isn't really about 'power' - the solution involves allowing everyone, staff and laymen, to air any concerns they have on an Open Forum, so that managers are forced to explain why they beleive their decisions are right is more prominent.

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  • michael stone | 10-Sep-2013 9:46 am

    Wrong. It is completely about power.

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  • Anonymous | 10-Sep-2013 2:17 pm

    ...and about MS, who likes to comment on these pages, but clearly demonstrates how little he knows and understands about organisational psychology and the psychodynamics of power within the NHS.

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  • michael stone

    'Anonymous | 10-Sep-2013 2:17 pm

    michael stone | 10-Sep-2013 9:46 am

    Wrong. It is completely about power.'

    No, because the 'power' has to finally rest somewhere, wherever you put it. You can argue that a decision is eventually being taken by an administrator when you believe it should be taken by a doctor, or that a decision rests with a doctor when you think it should rest with a nurse. Etc. But, in the end, decisions need to have identifiable decision makers.

    What you need, is for the people who think the decision is wrong, to be able to openly explain why they are unhappy with it, and what they think the decision should have been, without getting 'packdrill' for airing their concerns. Then if things go pear-shaped, the decision maker cannot claim that he/she 'wasn't told what would happen' - and if things go well, the decision maker's competence is 'proven'.

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  • . It has always been the professional duty of a Registered nurse to protect the patient and the code has always reflected this. So bottom line this is nothing new. I sometimes wonder whether the people (in charge) of the NMC actually understand the code. Either they do not, or they think that no-one else does . These so called new initiatives are not new and will change nothing.Same as their latest excersise about Re-validation...waste of time and space.

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  • michael stone | 10-Sep-2013 3:22 pm

    You have no idea what I'm talking about. It is nothing to do with what you are talking about.

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  • Anonymous | 10-Sep-2013 4:16 pm

    ignore. it is a Troll!

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  • Anonymous | 10-Sep-2013 5:11 pm

    Who is a Troll?

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 11-Sep-2013 0:11 am

    Yes, I wasn't clear about that either, Anonymous | 10-Sep-2013 5:11 pm - are you saying that I'm a troll, or that my follower at 4:16 pm is a troll ?

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  • What evidence is there that new guidance will make any difference to the guiadnace that was previosuly in place? But, the NMC can tick the box that it has done its bit and move on

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  • I complained about various issues including seclusion and medication abuses at my LD trust and two internal inquiries later I received a letter of thanks from the trust CEO and a copy of the resulting report..a trust wide Seclusion Review. I was then fired on a trumped-up charge of accessing one seclusion victims file which was dis-proven so adjusted by managers to looking for too long. The NMC resurrected all 12 previously dis-proven "inappropriate" accessing s and invented a new charge..using my home computer to write my original complaint statement which I immediately submitted at the time. I was as a consequence then given access to a trust computer to write it out in full which formed the basis of the first internal inquiry that resulted in the district pharmacist thanking me for raising my concerns and consequently implementing "citalopram plans" to ensure that no further otherwise completely healthy medication-free teenagers were prescribed untimely psychotropics that were not even indicated. However I appealed because my complaints about abusive seclusions were covered-up. The NMC seem more interested in protecting a dodgy trust than protecting anyone.

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