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NMC to review serious cases before internal investigation


Nurses and midwives involved in “very serious cases” that pose a risk to patients should be referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council prior to an internal investigation, the regulator has stated.

In updated guidance on referrals, the NMC has called on employers to make referrals as quickly as possible in order for it to consider issuing an interim suspension until the case has been fully investigated.

The regulator said it had “clarified its advice as a result of cases in which employers have misunderstood their responsibility to refer quickly if patient safety is at risk”.

It states: “The revised advice specifically encourages employers to refer a nurse or midwife at an early stage in very serious cases, even before they conduct their own internal investigation.”

NMC director of fitness to practise Jackie Smith said: “We would like to remind employers that if they believe the public’s health and wellbeing is at immediate and serious risk, they should contact us straight away.

“This will give us the opportunity to issue an interim suspension or restrict the person’s practice while the case is investigated,” she added.

The revised advice and information also notes that in less serious instances cases may be referred back from the NMC to the employer to be dealt with locally.

The guidance also includes more detailed information about the existing responsibilities of employers to check references, identity and competence.


Readers' comments (21)

  • This is quite sad really. The fact that the NMC need to publish this to make people be aware of them to report very serious cases does not bode well.

    I would have hoped that employers would know about our governing body but according to our governing body it seems not. This is worrying and makes me wonder if they are actually effective at all.

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  • The speed at which cases are dealt with also needs to be addressed. Our Trust referred a nurse to the NMC and it took over two years for the case to be heard. During the two years waiting, the nurse in question was working for another organisation and ended up being referred to the NMC by this organisation as well. This nurse has now been struck off, but it took an awfully long time.

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  • If you think two years is too long, try nearly five which I have heard of. There must be considerations about the validity of evidence and people's memories being affected by the passage of time.

    The NMC needs to be deconstructed and rebuilt in a manner consistent with the demands placed upon it.

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  • I think this is a positive move as it will mean that employers are being monitored to investigate properly. And minor issues dealt with, with support and further training from the employer. These cases are costly and take a longtime to reach hearing stage. where incidents are due to staff shortages and repeated employer neglect of there duty of care to there employee's then maybe this will be a postive deterient to the bad employers.

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  • And what about the question of the suitability of the NMC to conduct these investigations in the first place? As another poster said, they need scrapping and rebuilding from scratch.

    They also need to start looking at the organisations themselves, not just individual Nurses. Organisations and trusts have to be held to account for neglect and incompetence too, after all, it is often the working conditions THEY force on Nurses which lead to incidents taking place.

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  • But Mike, I thought the care qualty comission dealt with organisations? I am sure I saw on this site somewhere (though I can't find it on here now but im in a rush) that the NMC has a special relationship with the CQC. NMC just does individual nurses. I think that's the case?

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  • The more serious the allegation, the quicker should be the investigation - suspension is a serious matter and it does not mean the person is actually guilty.

    Indeed, a person is deemed innocent until they have been proven guilty in this country. There has to be a logical and transparent rationale between the legal rights of the employee and that of the patient: if only to prevent the employee taking legal action against either the NMC and/ or their employer!

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  • Yet, in a fragmented system, a gap remains. We need a bridge.

    What about those who are delivering "Care Packages" in the Community? The Community Nurse, and even Doctors, may be aware that neglect/ abuse is taking place, but be unable to do anything about it, as it is in the hands of another body.
    This causes the "blinkered effect" as I call it. Unable to remedy the situation, they view themselves as liable only for the care they provide for their patients - not the care that is lacking.
    As such, although much may be seen and experienced, little will be reported. I would love to hear of anybody bold enough to report an incidence of neglect in the Community - to whom was it reported, and what was the response, if any?

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  • Speaking as a nurse who is involved in a fitness to practice case, and who has been in limbo for over a year, the NMC have to be quicker in making their decisions. I have not worked since, partially because of the case not being decided. Also - my employer let me down badly, but the NMC have no power to investigate them, and they have got away with destroying my career.

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  • To Anonymous the NMC Has a "memorandum of understanding" with CQC.
    I quoted this fact recently when I corresponded with the NMC over the issue of CQC giving superior status to an NVQ (RMA) qualification in relation to residential care home management over that of a First level Nurse.
    I was informed by the NMC that CQC had nothing to do with them, was an independent body they had no power over and therefore "take it up with them.
    A patronising dismissive answer despite their glossy "memorandum of understanding" policy with CQC.
    I have no doubt as quangos they will talk to each other when it comes to making sure government policy is initiated and our profession is devalued further.

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