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NMC starts support service for those raising concerns about nurses


A new public support service has been launched today that offers “dedicated, personalised support” to members of the public who raise concerns about nurses and midwives.

One to one support will be available to anyone making a complaint as well as a dedicated phoneline providing emotional support.

“We’re absolutely committed to listening to people’s concerns and giving them a voice”

Jessie Cunnett

It has been launched by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in response to calls from the super-regulator the Professional Standards Authority in a review.

Earlier this year, the PSA highlighted issues about the NMC’s handling of concerns about midwives’ fitness to practise at Furness General Hospital in Morecambe Bay between 2004 and 2014.

The PSA review was commissioned by the government after the 2015 Kirkup report found serious concerns about the clinical competence and integrity of the midwifery unit at Furness General.

The review’s findings, published in May this year, also criticised the response of the NMC and led to the resignation of its chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith.

Following the PSA’s Lessons Learned Review into failings in care at Morecambe Bay, the NMC said it had recognised that it had got it wrong in the way it treated people raising concerns.

The introduction of the new public support service is “one of the ways people will get the support they need and deserve”, stated the regulator.

Anyone making a complaint about a nurse and midwife will now receive “one to one” support from the beginning, with a dedicated, named contact available to them throughout the processes, it said.

An “anonymous emotional support line” will also be made available for all those who need it, noted the regulator.

To continually improve the way it treats those raising concerns, the regulator has established an independent group of patients and family members to challenge its thinking.

A network of 60 NMC employees has also been set up to spearhead projects that will improve the way employees across the whole organisation communicate with people.

Jessie Cunnett, head of the new public support service, said: “Making a complaint about a nurse or midwife can be a distressing and uncertain time and we know we haven’t always got things right.

“But we’re absolutely committed to listening to people’s concerns and giving them a voice when things go wrong with their care, treating them with the respect, compassion and humanity they deserve,” she said.

“But the support service is about much more than improving how we write a letter or answer a phone call,” said Ms Cunnett.

“It’s about our employees establishing a relationship with those receiving care and their loved ones so that we’re able to better meet their needs and support better, safer care,” she added.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Source of NMC referrals illustrates 73.33% of employer referrals has resulted in impairment, strike off or other action, whilst only 3.6% members of the public sees a similar result......

    The regulators (NMC/ GMC) mostly accept employer referrals but fail to
    ascertain as to whether the referred registrant had previously whistle-blown against the referring employer.

    In light of the recent PSA report, I would hope that genuine members of the public are listened to rather than regulators acting upon some vexatious employer referrals

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    GMC annual report in 2016 confirmed “We are running pilots in each of the UK’s four countries of safeguards to reduce the risk of our procedures being used to disadvantage whistleblowers, a concern raised by Sir Anthony Hooper QC who was commissioned by the GMC to undertake an independent review of how the GMC deals with whistleblowing”. …..

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  • I think supportive service provided by our professional body is an excellent idea - support excellence, more compassionate effective care where the Code is followed. This may not lead to disciplinary action but a voice for relatives and patients. Lets hope there is an effective feed forward method where leaders of the organisations/Trusts and the profession can look at how processes and staffing levels contribute to these poor experiences or how scenario's can be used to challenge accepted practice and promote learning and understanding. Hopefully not just rhetoric. Nurses,Midwifes and Nursing associates also need this type of support from their professional body and not just their union.

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  • It seems to me that this could be either very good or very bad; good for complainants, and possibly very bad for nurses who become the victims of baseless complaints by spiteful clients. Don't forget folks, our regulator is not there to protect nurses (who pay for it), its purpose is to protect the public (who don't pay). Time will tell.

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