The Nursing and Midwifery Council has approved a new professional code for its registrants, which it says will tackle behavioural issues as well as building on existing standards around practice.
The new code, which has been described as “significantly” different to a draft version released earlier this year, is centred around four topics – prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety and promote professionalism.
It features new instructions including to treat people with compassion and to ensure the physical, social and psychological needs of people are assessed and to exercise candour when any errors or harm have occurred.
Social media is also referred to as part of a new section about using all forms of communication responsibly, as well as detailed standards about raising concerns.
“We’re expecting that it isn’t just a document for student training or that you happen to make reference to for fitness to practise, but that it becomes ‘live’ ”
The new code also brings back a previous requirement for nurses and midwives to intervene if an emergency occurs outside of their place of work – commonly referred to as Samaritan acts – after the NMC acknowledged it currently has no public policy on this area.
The revised code was approved earlier this week at the NMC’s latest council meeting.
The regulator’s director of continued practice Katarina Kolyva said the document – called The Code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives – embodied “expected standards” that were “neither aspirational, nor minimal”.
She said the NMC’s consultation on the existing code had shown that the majority of respondents were only using it as a disciplinary tool.
The new version is due to be published in full by the end of January and to come into effect in March.
Ms Kolyva said it should not be used just as a fitness to practise tool, but should be a “live” document that is used by “everyone who has in interest in good nursing and midwifery practice”.
Ms Kolyva also highlighted that the new version stated the public expectation of nursing staff in relation to each of the four topic areas, and the NMC would be publishing a public-facing document about the code for patients.
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said the new code was designed to address a range of important issues.
“One is good practice and an emphasis on that, and we’re also trying to tackle the issue of professionalism and leadership and the use of social media,” she said.
When asked by Nursing Times what change in behaviour the NMC expected to see from registrants, Ms Smith said: “Quite simply the code is about good practice. There are elements to it that are new – and it is central to everyone’s practice.
“What we’re expecting is that it isn’t just a document that you go through in your student training and happen to make reference to if you end up in fitness to practise, but that it becomes ‘live’.”
The NMC’s revision of its existing code – last updated in 2008 – is part of its response to the Francis report, which detailed the findings of the public inquiry into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.