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Nurses with drink and drug cautions to face NMC assessment

  • 13 Comments

New medical assessments for nurses with a caution or conviction for an alcohol or drug related offence must help people to address any underlying health conditions, a union has warned.

Last week regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council introduced a requirement for nurses or midwives with a caution or conviction for an alcohol or drug related offence to undergo medical assessments when applying for or renewing their registration in some cases.

NMC chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes said: “This policy is designed to improve patient safety by aiding decision making providing additional evidence of a nurse or midwife’s health following receipt of a caution or conviction for an alcohol or drug related offence.

“In order to effectively safeguard the public, we need to be confident that any nurse or midwife who has received an alcohol or drug related caution or conviction in the years between renewing their registration is fit and safe to practise,” said professor Weir-Hughes.

However, Gail Adams, head of nursing at Unison, said the assessments needed to ensure they helped people with any health problems related to the charges.

“There are some people that have health related problems that are linked to drug or alcohol abuse. We think that the new assessments should be part of a full medical assessment. You need to look holistically at the whole person just as if they are a patient,” she said.

Ms Adams added that she would expect the assessments to be focussed on cases where people had more than one caution or conviction and the decision on whether they  needed to be carried out should be “risk based and proportionate”.

Julie Fagan, co-ordinator of the Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspension and Exclusions in the NHS (CAUSE (UK)), said the NMC needed to ensure it considered the “wider picture” relating to such cases but she was “worried” this may not take place.

  • 13 Comments

Readers' comments (13)

  • The one major problem with this is that the NMC has a very long track record in using things like this as tools to beat Nurses with, rather than help them. They can never be trusted to be on the Nurses side.

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  • We pay for this? Why? Does the NMC ever support nurses? At present it seems that nurse can be kicked and picked on by anyone and still carry on caring! oh dear

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  • Steve Williams

    Oh yeah this is what we pay our licence fee for... to be hounded like dogs. We wanna be called professionals? How many Doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, architects or other “real” professionals have to jump through hoops like this?

    Wise up peeps. Nursing never was and never will be a profession – especially with the NMC on our backs. You are living in Dreamland (and I don't mean the Margate kind) if you think otherwise. Get as many degrees as you want you'll still get less clemency from the NMC than a less qualified Doctor will get from the GMC.

    It's disgusting and discriminatory. Is any other “profession” (or even trade) subjected to this sort of abuse from its own governing body? Christ almighty, next thing you know they'll be bringing back uniforms with pink triangles sewn on them!

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  • Steve williams,
    I totally agree with your comments but please do not use Christ's name in vain.

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  • Steve Williams

    Anonymous | 30-Jul-2010 8:30 pm.

    Why not? I'm an atheist so the guy's name makes no difference to me. Would you be offended if I'd said "Ron L Hubbard almighty" or "Holy Shiva" would that have offended you? Of course not because you are not a Scientologist nor a Hindu.

    Please don't presume that everyone shares your religious preferences or sensibilities. Christianity isn't even the largest religion in the world either.

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  • Steve Williams

    Anonymous | 30-Jul-2010 8:30 pm.

    Why not? I'm an atheist so the guy's name makes no difference to me. Would you be offended if I'd said "Ron L Hubbard almighty" or "Holy Shiva" would that have offended you? Of course not because you are not a Scientologist nor a Hindu.

    Please don't presume that everyone shares your religious preferences or sensibilities. Christianity isn't even the largest religion in the world either.

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  • it never ceases to amaze me the things the NMC think up to try and keep nurses in line with. What about support and counselling for people in these circumstances. Does the NMC even bother to ask why these people feel the need to drink and take drugs?

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  • no wonder that so many nurses leave the profession

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  • How do the NMC fulfil their role to protect patients when they are not providing nurses with the type and level of support they need throughout their careers to provide the highest standards of care.

    More transparency is also needed on the way in which the registration fees are spent.

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  • Why did the GNCs and SRN title disappear? Regulation of the profession seems to have seriously detiorated since the time of their disappearance with little protection for nurses. What happened to the UKCC? Did it fail for some reason?
    Would it not be better separate the regulatory body which has the responsibility of holding and maintaining the register for qualified nurses and a role to support their professional interests and needs (which seems to have been totally neglected) from that which examines patients' complaints and protects them from malpractice. It seems that these two functions are both highly specialist areas which do not mix and which under the current system are strongly biased in favour of patients where obviously both groups are of vital importance to the running of satisfactory and high quality healthservices.

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