Prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety and promote professionalism are the four “statements” of the revised Nursing and Midwifery Council code of conduct, which is published today.
The new code will be sent to all nurses and midwives before it becomes effective on 31 March 2015.
It will also apply to all student nurses and midwives from this date - replacing their current separate guidelines - so that standards for conduct are consistent with qualified nurses and midwives.
“It is essential that the code reflects patients’ needs, modern healthcare practice, and the recommendations of reviews such as the Francis Inquiry”
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “Public expectations of care have changed radically since the code was last reviewed in 2008. It is essential that the code reflects patients’ needs, modern healthcare practice, and the recommendations of reviews such as the Francis Inquiry.”
The code will be central to revalidation, which is a series of three-yearly checks that the NMC is introducing at the end of 2015.
Unions have welcomed the new code, saying they hope it will improve patient care.
“The code…will become even more central as nurses revalidate their registration against it in a new process”
The Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing both pointed to the code’s greater focus on raising concerns.
The RCM also highlighted the importance of other updated sections such as those on the professional duty of candour, the use of social media and networking sites and a great emphasis on compassionate care.
RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton said: “The code provides mothers and service-users with a measure of what they can expect in terms of professional care from midwives and nurses and provides a benchmark against which they can provide feedback regarding the care they receive.
“We hope the new and revised measures will help improve care for mothers, babies and families.”
Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “The NMC code is a critical document which is fundamental to the nursing profession, and it must reflect the realities and diversity of nursing and midwifery in the 21st century.”
He added: “The NMC code has always been at the heart of the nursing profession, and it will become even more central as nurses revalidate their registration against it in a new process.
“It is important that the pilots of this new process are monitored closely and any lessons are learned to make sure this important code continues to support the nursing profession.”