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.