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NMC defends decision to strike off undercover nurse Margaret Haywood.


A war of words has broken out over the NMC’s decision to strike off undercover nurse Margaret Haywood for breaching patient confidentiality.

In a strongly-worded statement, the union Unite accused the NMC of being ‘heavy handed’ in its treatment of Ms Haywood.

Karen Reay, Unite’s officer for health, said: ‘We can’t have a culture where ‘whistle blowers’ feel intimated into not legitimately reporting wrong doing and bad practice in the NHS. We need a safe environment for ‘whistle blowers’ who feel that they can complain without losing their livelihood.

‘There appears to be a number of extenuating circumstances in the case of Margaret Haywood and the NMC could have imposed a lesser punishment than that of being struck off.’

‘The NMC exists as a regulatory body to protect patients and clients first and foremost, and not the alleged failings of members of the nursing profession in caring for the elderly.’

However, the NMC has defended its actions. Craig Turton, a spokesperson for the NMC, said in an email response: ‘Margaret Haywood was struck from the register because she failed to gain the consent of the patients prior to secretly filming them and not, as reported by some media, for whistle blowing.

‘A patient should be able to trust a nurse with his/her physical condition and psychological wellbeing without that confidential information being disclosed to others.

‘Only in the most exceptional circumstances should the cardinal principle of patient confidentiality be breached.  Based upon the evidence it heard, the independent panel did not believe that this was the case and although the conditions on the ward were serious, it was not necessary to breach confidentiality to seek to improve them by the method chosen. The panel believed that the method was unlikely to benefit the patients that were on the ward at the time of filming and under Margaret Haywood’s care.’


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Readers' comments (25)

  • The health, safety, wellbeing and care of patients is what is meant to concern us. This principle should over-ride any requirement to ask patients permission to record the lack of, or poor quality of, the care and treatment they are receiving. After this foolish ruling nobody will feel inclined to raise concerns about any aspect of treatment and those who suffer will be the patients whose care is our number 1 concern!

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  • Phil Dup

    Mmmm what a surprise...The NMC continue to make crackpot decisions from their comfy well paid nests.
    Perhaps its better to keep quiet from now on if we see poor conditions at work otherwise we may be joining the ranks of the unemployed - and then we will have even less Nurses and then even greater patient care problems.

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  • john warwick

    How like the NMC blame the whistleblower but not the matron or ward manager that let patients lay in filth. THe NMC and NHS management must be held accountable , When the secret filming was done at Ealing hospital the Ward manager was moved to a differant ward and the Director of NUrsing and ADN stayed the same no one was fired and sincw then Ealing has lost all its stars NOTHING CHANGES

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  • margaret was brave to do this for her patients Would asking their permision have changed their care, she was speaking for them, NMC should be ashamed ,how long since any member has been on the shop floor and seen this happening, it is a daily happening in my trust, who are intent on targets and finances and have reduced staffing levels!!!!

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  • The intent of any action is most accurately judged by its outcome. The outcome of Margaret's action was to improve care for her patients. The outcome of the NMC's action has been to warn nurses all over the country to keep their mouths shut. Margaret comes out of this with honour.

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  • I refer to article's last sentence "The panel believed..etc " Never a truer word! Seems like the NMC is about as useful for clients as the FSA has been in banking circles. If any changes have been made on the ward, (not to mention in trusts elsewhere), well no, I have not heard about them. So, NMC, time to get out of your cosy little unstressed cocoons and down to the shop floor. End of slagging match. If you want to serve, start now, will you?

    A medal for bravery would be most apposite here. Caring people should not have to do what Margaret Haywood's heart has led her to do.

    As things stand, this outcome becomes blatant intimidation of both nurses AND clients alike, present and future, (Hey, that includes YOU!). Over my dead body! Hurrah for leaders - our country needs many more like you, Margaret.

    So nurse, NO LONGER are you going to be as disempowered as a Woodpecker at a Nuclear Power Plant; you are at a major turning point: Stand up and stand out!

    Arise and shine.

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  • Margaret was an advocate for her patients she deserves a medal not to be struck off.
    the NMC and the government should spend less on advertising and put the money, to good use for patient care and staffing. If it was their relative I wonder if her outcome would have been different, the NMC should have thanked her. Nurses today have no say consider it is supposed to be a caring profession well only when it suits them I hope Margaret appeals and I hope she wins

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  • Nurses, well the NMC obviously does not know what it is to be a nurse. I hope one of their relatives never has to experience that kind of care, No one deserves to be given sub-standard care. Margaret was their voice, and I am sure if asked then those patients would have been grateful to have someone speaking out for them.
    Margaret deserves a medal NMC it time to support nurses not the government.

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  • this is a difficult scenario, as the Code clearly states confidentiality is paramount. however, the nurse is also the patient's advocate... had she informed the highest echelons of the Trust first? there needs to be a middle road - i hope the appeal is successful

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  • I was shocked to see that she had been struck off and I was left with the feeling that the NMC were almost in denial about how poor nursing care can be. Margaret did not address confidentiality issues correctly, however, when people's lives are at risk as these clearly were, where do we draw the line? As a nurse I have seen the other side of nursing. In the past 3 years I have been a patient on acute wards an intensive care units. The care varies considerably, from the very best to appaulling life threatening care and in some cases I witnessed people suffer in circumstances that everyone in the UK should be aware of.
    I'm sure, whatever lies ahead she'll be remembered by many as courageously her blowing the whistle on the poor conditions patients were enduring.

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