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Patient neglect driving NMC referrals

  • 33 Comments

Lack of competence in caring for patients and neglect are the biggest drivers of complaints to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, a breakdown of referrals to the regulator has revealed.

It is the first time the NMC has published a detailed analysis of the reasons behind the thousands of referrals it receives about nurses and midwives in the UK every year.

Just under half related to misconduct, 29% to lack of competence and 16% to potential criminal behaviour.

There were 618 allegations of patient neglect, 152 that a nurse had been violent towards or physically abused a patient and 124 that a nurse had been verbally abusive to someone in their care.

A total of 105 referrals alleged that registrants had stolen drugs, 55 that a nurse had been sleeping on duty while 44 related to inappropriate use of social media.

There were 4,407 referrals in 2011-12, almost double the number received in 2009-10 and a 4.7% rise on 2010-11.

However the proportion of allegations found to have no case to answer has increased from 38% in 2009-10 to 55% in 2011-12, suggesting an increase in inappropriate referrals.

  • 33 Comments

Readers' comments (33)

  • over half were inappropriate?

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  • Many will prove to be malicious.

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  • As regards the alleged neglect, there are not enough nurses to properly care for the patients sometimes. Then you are told that 'It's the same everywhere' which is a pretty poor excuse for not staffing the wards properly. My response to that is always to say that it doesn't make it right that it is the same everywhere.

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  • Again, absolute crap!!!! This is just the NMC trying to justify a massive and a proven unjustified fee hike!!!!!

    Seriously makes me wonder why nurses bother.

    First of all how many of these referrals are completely innapropriate?

    With the potential criminal behaviour, I can't really comment on that as obviously that would need to be investigated. However, how many cases have been dismissed by the police or the courts as a non case, but then STILL pushed through by the NMC?? (Rebecca Leighton anyone?)

    There were 618 allegations of patient neglect. A lack of care? neglect? This makes my blood boil, how many of these so called instances can be directly attributed to a lack of staff and too many patients, therefore becoming a management issue? I'll bet it is a significant number! There is a tipping point where we can only see as many patients as we can see, we cannot do everything! But we'll still get blamed and it is us who are referred to the NMC!

    152 that a nurse had been violent towards or physically abused a patient and 124 that a nurse had been verbally abusive to someone in their care. And how many verbal and physical attacks are nurses subjected to? Don't get me wrong if any of these cases are accurate then they deserve full investigation and punishment (I can think of at least one high profile incident that I'm sure shocked and appalled us all). HOWEVER, how many of these are either malicious complaints or borne from incidents where the patient/patients family are abusive?

    A total of 105 referrals alleged that registrants had stolen drugs.I'd want a full and definitive definition of this. Were all 105 of those stuffing entire medicine cabinets in holdalls every shift? Or - and this would be my guess because I have actually seen this referred to the NMC - were the majority of them simply for having a paracetamol for a headache or something? For crying out loud, we work long hours under some of the most stressful and demanding working envioronments around, many of us are run down and beaten.I'm surprised entire bays aren't filled with staff hooked up to IVs to recover from a bad shift! Does the occassional paracetamol warrant an NMC referral, or would the trust rather have the staff member go off sick? I'm speculating of course, but my point is I still bet the majority of the referrals are inappropriate.

    55 that a nurse had been sleeping on duty. So what?I am assuming these were on a night shift and that the sleep was on a break, then we are bloody entitled to it. We work long, tiring hours, and it has been clinically proven that naps are better for our health, concentration and productivity. Furthermore they are often UNPAID breaks, so noone has the right to dictate what you do on them. If emergency cover is expected, then it is down to the employer to supply that, not you on an unpaid break. I am assuming again of course that this is what the referrals are about, but I would bet good money on a good proportion of them being this at least!

    44 related to inappropriate use of social media. This is a hard one, I think ANY professional is stupid to even use sites like Facebook etc, as they are putting a huge target on their own backs. However, they do, so they need to be careful. Of course there have been instances where confidentiality has been breached and yes this may need investigating. However, there have also been instances of 'bringing the profession into disrepute' ( a pathetic catch all term that the NMC redifines as it sees fit) when a nurse has posted a picture of a drunken night out (we've all had them) and some po faced nun wanabe has gotten wind of the fact that the sister likes to use a lampost as a 'dancing' (ahem) pole after a night out. Well so bloody what? Are we not entitled to a private life? What right does any professional role or body have to dictate what we do in our private lives?

    I'm willing to bet a solid number of these are completely inappropriate referrals. Nurses are easy targets, and people are too readily encouraged to complain about the slightest thing, regardless of the consequences to often good nurses careers. I have no doubt that sometimes bad things do happen, and those responsible should be investigated and dealt with appropriately, but these instances certainly are not in the majority, and certainly do not justify the NMC becoming increasingly Orwelian in their approach or hiking their fees.

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  • michael stone

    mike | 25-Sep-2012 10:24 am

    'I'm willing to bet a solid number of these are completely inappropriate referrals. Nurses are easy targets, and people are too readily encouraged to complain about the slightest thing, regardless of the consequences to often good nurses careers.'

    I'm sure that people make inapprpriate complaints, but I venture to suggest that often this is because the complainant has not be fully informed of what is going on ?

    My own experience, of trying to raise a concern with my PCT, was they insisted on treating a concern as a complaint, then their main objective was to defend themself against the complaint they had manufactured.

    I think more (open) communication, would be a very good thing all around !

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  • mike - I agree with everything you have said, well done for actually having the courage to say what we all think (and know). Nurses are not stupid, we can see what is going on and we are beginning to realise that we are just scapegoats and will not tolerate it any longer.

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  • Mike Stone, or DH Agent as you go by now (it's been a while)! I'm not so sure that it is always the complainants lack of understanding, although I do certainly accept that this will often play a large part in any complaint, for not knowing that there were not enough staff on duty for example. However I do completely agree with the pathetic way the trusts enforce a 'you must complain' rhetoric, even for those who just want to say 'look, I felt hard done to and I just want to say so', whilst absolving themselves of any blame and putting the focus squarely on the staff nurses. Many people just want to be heard without a complaint. I have seen it all to often. There is no such thing as a 'no blame culture' within the NHS. Quite often it should be a case of I'm sorry the care wasn't 100%, I understand how you feel and I wish we could have done that for you, but we are all at breaking point and doing our best under dangerous and what should be illegal conditions and staffing numbers. At the end of the day, be grateful you are getting the treatment you are.'

    Anonymous | 25-Sep-2012 11:39 am, unfortunately many nurse will tolerate it. They have shown time and time again that they will bend over and accept anything that is dished out to them. I fortunately do not have to tolerate it any longer as I am now amongst the number of nurses who have joined a mass exodus from the profession, and I am much, much better off for it.

    Mark my words, you will see more and more articles like this in the coming months. More and more whining from the NMC, more rhetoric about how much their workload has increased, about how they are supposedly unable to cope. Bull. It is all to soften you up for the price hike THEY know is already decided on, and EVERYONE knows that nurses will just accept and grumble on. I still have my pin at the moment, but will not be renewing it after this price hike. I very much look forward to returning the demand for payment along with a very long, effusive and verbose letter explaining the many different ways they can shove their payments right up their ...

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  • Good to see you back mike. Where have you been? Did you pop over to Australia for a sabbatical?

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  • Anonymous | 25-Sep-2012 5:16 pm thank you. I did actually, as well as a few other places. I have posted a couple of times, but thought it a bit hypocrytical to offer my opinion on many things now that I have left the profession (and I am much better off). Strangely though I still care enough about nursing to hear things like this that get my blood boiling.

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  • tinkerbell

    mike | 25-Sep-2012 2:54 pm

    Well done mike, hope you are enjoying a much better lifestyle, working conditions and overall happiness & wellbeing. Life's too short to end up dreading going into work everyday because you know you will be run ragged and left accountable for a situation out of your control to work a shift that should be named 'mission impossible', then when your body is wrecked be thrown on a scrap heap and peg out before you can get a decent pension.

    The shoot horses don't they?

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