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NMC to issue guidance for nurse whistleblowers

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The NMC has started work on revising its guidance on whistleblowing for nurses and midwives.

Last week the regulator held talks on the issue with representatives from the main nursing unions – including UNISON, the RCN, RCM and Unite/CPHVA – and the independent body Public Concern at Work.

The talks focused on how nurses were often discouraged from whistleblowing by fears it could have a negative effect on their career, and the need for ‘clearer signposts’ on how to go about whistleblowing correctly and with confidence.

The move follows the high-profile cases of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and Margaret Haywood, the nurse struck off in April for breaking patient confidentiality while filming undercover for the BBC’s Panorama programme.

Commenting on the meeting, Christina McKenzie, NMC head of midwifery, said: ‘As a result of this meeting, we will develop information for nurses and midwives setting out the options for escalating concerns appropriately, in a way that is safe for patients and the public, and in a way that will not bring them into conflict with their code [of conduct].

‘There was also consensus about the need to involve other stakeholders including patient’s groups and employers of nurses and midwives across the NHS, independent and voluntary sectors,’ she added. ‘We are addressing the matter with urgency.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I hope they involve Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions and Exclusions (CAUSE UK) as we have 6 years experience of the problems whistleblowers have to endure from malfunctioning employers. Sadly union reps are often not helpful, not having the experience to deal with this very difficult situation.
    It will also be very difficult to find ways of protecting staff as suspensions/exclusions still do not have to be reported to any outside agency, nor the reason for the suspension or how it is being dealt with and by whom. It is so easy to silence concerned staff.
    I hope we are involved at CAUSE but I doubt it! One of our solutions of trusts having to consult an outside agency before suspending, will cost money. A similar approach for doctors has reduced unlawful/unnecessary suspensions by 85%but nurses just don't cost so much. A two tier system and although we asked the RCN to instigate a judicial review into unfair employment practices, they declined.
    Julie Fagan, founder member

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