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Berwick report: Staff should be supported to raise concerns, says NMC

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The nursing regulator said it welcomed recommendations made in the Berwick report on NHS patient safety for staff to be better supported in raising concerns.

The report by patient safety expert Professor Don Berwick was published earlier today. It set out a range of recommendations such as adopting improved transparency, a “culture of learning” and criminal offences for wilful neglect or mistreatment.

Jackie Smith chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said the regulator supported the report’s recommendation for the NHS to become a “learning environment, where staff are encouraged and supported in reporting concerns”.

“This recommendation supports the NMC code for nurses and midwives and our guidance on raising and escalating concerns,” she said.

Ms Smith also said she was “pleased” that the report recommended the introduction of assessing the performance of all clinical staff, as this would support the NMC’s work on revalidation for nurses and midwives – due to be launched in 2015.

However, she was non-committal on the Professor Berwick’s suggestion that staff should face prison for the wilful neglect of patients.

“We note the recommendation for the introduction of a new criminal offence of wilful or reckless neglect or mistreatment of patients. This is a significant recommendation and we will need time to consider it,” she said.

Ms Smith added that she was pleased the report acknowledged the strength of the new education standards set by the NMC for nurses and midwives.

“We will start evaluating these standards next year. As the report recommends, we will take any necessary steps to ensure that our standards continue to produce nurses and midwives who ensure the protection and safety of patients in their care,” she said.

Nursing Times is currently fighting to make it easier for staff to raise legitimate concerns by asking trusts to pledge their support to our Speak Out Safely campaign.

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

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I think a lot of patients are currently at risk to premature death due to the current difficulties in raising concerns with nmc or social services. It could be better if nurses were able to raise concerns without fear of backlash from various independent organisations they work for who are bent on money making

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