A duty on nurses and midwives to handle patient complaints and raise concerns will be highlighted in a planned revision of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s code of conduct.
An independent report on the way the NHS handles complaints was published on Monday. Making a raft of recommendations, the report called for a “revolution” in the way in which the NHS handles complaints.
It is the result of a review chaired by Ann Clwyd, Labour MP for Cynon Valley, and Professor Tricia Hart, chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and a former nurse.
In their report, they secured undertakings from 12 key health organisations, including the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to ensure that action will be taken within the next year.
They noted that the NMC’s code and education standards already include “clear duties” on nurses and midwives in relation to complaints handling, communication with patients and raising concerns.
However, the regulator has agreed to ensure these duties are highlighted in a revised version of the code, which will form the benchmark for appraisals and revalidation, and is due to be published by December 2014.
The NMC has said it will also take “more immediate steps” to raise awareness of these duties and their guidance on raising concerns among nurses, midwives and the public.
In addition, it said it would “improve the experience of patients and other complainants” who become involved in fitness to practise proceedings by providing more information and support. The NMC plans to have these new arrangements in place by April.
Lastly, the council said it would work more closely with other regulators to share data and intelligence including complaints information and patient feedback to better protect the public.
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “We have pledged, as part of our planned revision of the code, to ensure that complaints handling continues to be an integral part of the practice of nursing and midwifery.”
She added: “In addition, we have recently re-launched our Raising Concerns guidance for nurses and midwives. We have sent hard copies of the updated guidance to all directors of nursing and heads of midwifery within the UK.”
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