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Whistleblowing nurse faces further NMC charges over covert filming for BBC documentary


The career of whistleblowing nurse Margaret Haywood will be decided next week as she faces NMC charges of breaching patient confidentiality while filming covertly for the BBC Panorama documentary, Undercover Nurse.

Ms Haywood, 58, from Liverpool, was employed at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust when she covertly filmed patient care for the documentary, which was screened in 2005.

The BBC documentary, which was based on Ms Haywood’s covert filming, raised concerns about the quality of care on some of the hospital’s wards.

Following the documentary, Ms Haywood was referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) by her employer and faced a tribunal in November last year.

She was charged with failing to report concerns about patient care in accordance with trust policy and failing to assist or offer to assist staff when a patient was having a grand mal seizure on Peel and Stewart Ward.

These charges were dismissed, but Ms Haywood has admitted one more charge of breaching patient confidentiality and faces a further hearing in London next week.

Ms Haywood could be struck off the nursing register by the Conduct and Competence Committee hearing.


Readers' comments (15)

  • Mark Sheldon

    In light of the fact that she has had the other charges dismissed, while not knowing all the details, this seems to imply that standards were not acceptable in this hospital and Ms Hayward should be supported for her actions. I am sure patients and their families would stand behind any professional attempting to change poor workplace practices.

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  • This just says it all. We have had to encourage nurses and doctors to blow the whistle, and most realise that no matter how often they report poor practice nothing of any worth results. The only way is to bring attention to an authority outside of the hospital/nursing home/care home....and then we hang the whistleblower out to dry. I applaud this nurses action...the public are entitled to know what goes on behind the scenes. Im sorry but I dont believe others didnt know this was was quietly accepted. I was previously a matron and when I worked at a home with abuse, when I discovered what was going on I made sure that all the relatives were kept informed of allegations and actions against those accused, which was dismissal and an ongoing investigations that lasted 18 months. I dont want to be in a hospital as a patient where staff are too afraid to be outspoken and say clearly to outside authorities....even TV programmers....that bad practice is thriving....we should be thanking this nurse. As an agency nurse if I worked in a home with poor practice (many) I reported it to the matron and then went directly to the local authority and kept in touch with them to see what action they had taken...if more people did this, we could all have total faith in our healthcare institutions.

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  • I agree with the first comment. Having been victimised for being a whistleblower in the past I totally understand why this nurse chose to go above the approved procedure and involve an outside organisation. People have suggested that the BBC was not the most appropriate organisation to go to and she should have voiced her concerns within the complaints procedure and taken it to the top but what are you supposed to do when the system is corrupt and these problems are swept under the carpet? The NMC should be focusing on why she felt she needed to do this and the issues her actions brought to light rather than trying to shift the focus by punishing her.

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  • Phil Dup

    I agree she should go through the official channels first which is not clear from this article that she had done.
    HOWEVER if she had done and still no resolutions then I would say she had a moral obligation to use the power of Television which has always been important in helping create social change worldwide - how long would the Vietnam War gone on with pointless loss of life on both sides if the media had not exposed the cockups and bad management causing it to drag on ?
    As long as patient details etc were anonimised then has confidentiality has been breached ?

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  • In light of what has happened I agree with what the nurse has done, even though she should have firstly complained, but we never know if she had made previous complaints that had not come to light to make her feel that she needs to make this impact upon the NHS. I feel as a soon to be newly qualified nurse, that i do question the career i have choosen, but i will stand my ground with relation to clients rights. Due the reasoning why i came into the caring profession, but i think this is what is missed and the fact that alot of nurses are afraid of saying something incase they are wrong. Gut instinct wins hands down SO ACT ON IT!!

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  • I agree with everything this nurse has done, my respect goes out to her and she should be applauded. the NMC are more interested in status, image and political correctness, they take your fee's and give no support whatsoever to nurses.
    The nursing profession needs to stand up for itself, because it is a very down trodden organisation, but that doesn't excuse poor practice. The trusts are equally culpable, as they're more concerned about staying within their budget. I will be qualified soon and wonder why I chose this profession.

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  • It would appear to me that from the strength of opinion expressed here this nurse has done exactly what the NMC claims to be its function - that being the protection of the public.

    This nurse exposed standards of care that were falling drastically short of those that would be expected of any hospital in this country. Standards that would have been maintained by members of our profession, been known about by members of our profession, been quietly accepted by members of our profession and in doing so members of our profession fell short in their obligation to the public and their own Code of Professional Practice.

    It would also appear to me that the NMC would be serving the public interest and safety best by praising and not investigating this nurse and by insisting that the Trust concertned should undertake a much more thorough and searching investigation into itself rather than looking for a scape goat to save their embarassment and blushes. So I challenge the NMC to stand up for the people who are rightly trying to protect the public by improving standards rather than punishing them for reporting such issues through amedium which will get things changed because God only knows if you leave things the managers within the NHS nothing changes. So go on stand up for nurses!

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  • What happened to openess, transparency and whistleblowing? As healthcare professionals, we are responsible for reporting poor or unsafe practice, but feel disempowered and threatened if we do so. The healthcare establishment are publicly committed to whistleblowing, but actually, they would prefer us to just keep quiet and keep our opinions to ourselves. Whistleblowing and transparency are merely buzz words that are given lip service only.
    The striking off of Nurse Haywood is proof that the establishment do not want us to whistleblow.

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  • So this hero of the vulnerable has been struck off. For this the NMC need to be looked at in a differing light are the panels sitting to allieviate the embarassment of employers, or as is their Statutory obligation acting in the best interests of the public.
    The decision of the panel to remove this nurse from the register is at best wrong at worst Draconion. This judgement has done nothing to encourage members of this profession to report or challenge practices which fall below that expected by the public, for fear of victimisation by the governing body. I have said previously and will repeat it again these issues cannot be left to NHS managers to sort out, they cannot be trusted with the well being of patients particularly if it effects their drive for monetary savings, in these issues NHS managers just don't care about the patient or standards of care.
    It is time that all and any judgement passed buy the Fitness to Practice panels are subjected to Independent Judicial Review.
    It is now time that members of this profession stood up and let the governing body know what it thinks about their actions and decisions and the NMC should now be held accountable for those decisions to the profession which is not as many in the NMC would believe that body but the individual members.

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  • I agree with the previous comments made and believe that Ms Heywood was infact trying to act as the patients advocate by getting somone to do something about the poor care these patients were receiving. I am certain she did not undetake this lightly, although it's a pity she was unable to protect the patients identity. Also it would be interesting to hear what the relatives had to say - I know if it was a relative of mine I would be grateful to the nurse for exposing the situation.How vulnerable must patients feel in that situation? I also object to the way the news has said tonight that the standards of care are much better now (so they should be) as if that makes it ok to strike a very caring nurse off the register and trying to lessen what was actually happening at that time. We dont know what the staffing levels were but I wonder how much of an impact that had on the standard of care, I strongly feel that nurse patient ratios need revising. This certainly wont help us to expose poor care, and isnt it amazing that with all the policies we have for everything we do readily available at work this one is so elusive? I also struggle to understand why managers dont listen to their staff when they raise issues that are impacting on patients care. I hope there is a good lawyer out there ready to help Ms Heywood her Trust should be pleased to have her as a member of their staff.

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