The number of complaints made about nurses and midwives has jumped by nearly 60% since last year, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which said it was “cause for serious concern”.
The regulator said it had experienced a “record year on year increase” in the number of complaints it had received from the public, employers, healthcare professionals and the police.
It received 833 new referrals in January and February of this year, compared to 530 for the same period in 2010 – an increase of 57%.
The regulator described the volume of new complaints referred to it from employers and, particularly from members of the public, as “significant” – though it noted that more detailed work was needed to understand the precise reasons for the increase.
NMC chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes said: “The fact that other healthcare regulators have also experienced similar dramatic increases in the volume of their complaints is a serious cause for concern and indicates the need for more detailed research into the underlying reasons for these trends.”
However, he added: “It is encouraging that employers and members of the public are more confident about referring their complaints to us.”
In its statement on the figures, the regulator suggested a “more proactive approach to communication” with employers and patient action groups, including better information about the fitness to practise and complaints processes, “may partly explain the growing willingness” of these groups to complain.
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