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NMC rubber stamps new code of conduct for nurses and midwives


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’ ”

Jackie Smith

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”.


Katerina Kolyva

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.

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

“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.


Readers' comments (33)

  • Is that headstones in the picture? not a good sign. Consultation finished already.

    Hopefully good Samaritans will know basic first aid and/or carry a mobile phone to get extra help.

    Good practice is important from everyone involved with patients care + not just those on the NMC register.

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  • So with regards to the samaritan thing....correct me if I am wrong but the NMC do not INSURE us for we are expected by the money grabbing useless council to put ourselves at risk, in both a personal and professional manner with NO support (surprise surprise)!

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  • Did anyone expect anything more than rubber stamp agreement to pass it. We are dealing with government appointed shape shifters, pen pushers taking £120 a year from underpaid nurses whilst they collect £100,000+
    Nurses get no support from the NMC as members of other professional bodies get. They dont give advise except to "contact the RCN or union if you belong to one"
    The NMC are an independent company, the same as Sky or Southern Electric or Virgin Rail but none of those expect customers to pay £120 a year for the service.
    Just what use is the NMC

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  • why don't they just change the code to one thing, thou must be a saint always

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  • I think it is driftwood in shifting sands - very apt

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  • The reason the Code is only used as a disciplinary tool is because it is too flipping complicated and full of politically correct gobbledegook!
    The code I learned off by heart was so easy to implement in practice.It's been archived now!
    Mind you that was back in the days of the UKCC when once you had registered you didn't have to pay again the next year!!!
    Prepp was still required- it didn't mean that nurses 'fossilised' just because they didn't have to pay annually to practice.

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  • michael stone

    I have an idea that I looked at the consultation for this new code. And perhaps sent something in - can't remember.

    I must admit that I am always less impressed by NMC stuff that by GMC stuff - not that I invariably agree with the GMC, it does seem to at least try to 'define things' better than the NMC does: some of the NMC stuff seems to me to be either so 'vague' as to be pointless, or else phrased in such a way that its meaning is open to too much 'interpretation' by the NMC.

    But I will probably track the new code down, when it appears.

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  • The new Code will be used in exactly the same as its predecessors: as a fitness to practice tool to be wielded by managers, many of them incompetent and unscrupulous, against registrants working on the front line.

    The NMC will continue happily in its role as another willing tier of management more than happy to pursue front-line workers at the instigation of the very same managers responsible for the care environment in which the registrants have to work.

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  • NMC are anti-nurses!!

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  • Now that the NMC have kept themselves occupied by writing a 'Code of the Bleeding Obvious' whilst awarding themselves a very generous salary, we should now expect a shift in direction where they will spend months on another useless project that will culminate in a 'consultation' to further increase fees to pay for it.
    So glad I'm retired now. I would have liked to have done a few shifts somewhere occasionally, but refuse to pay these blood-suckers £120 pa for the 'privilege'.

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