Validate your membership/access to the iHV Champion hub here to receive your password.
Not a member? Join here.

Nursing leaders speak out about serious failings at the Nursing and Midwifery Council

9th July 2024

Today, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has published the damning findings from an independent review into the organisation’s culture which highlights endemic racism and a failure to act on the concerns raised repeatedly by whistleblowers. The NMC has a duty to protect the public and operate to the highest standards that it expects of its own registrants. However, the report catalogues numerous counts of bullying, racism and sexual harassment within the NMC and an unacceptable backlog of fitness to practise casework. As highlighted in the report, since April 2023, sadly six people have paid the highest price and died by suicide or suspected suicide while under, or having concluded, fitness to practise investigation.

Following repeated concerns raised by senior nursing leaders and whistleblowers about the organisation’s culture, including racism and fear of speaking up, the NMC commissioned Nazir Afzal OBE and Rise Associates to carry out the review. Over 1,000 current and former NMC colleagues, plus more than 200 panel members who sit on fitness to practise hearings, shared their lived experiences as part of the review.

The NMC has published a formal statement in response to the “Independent Culture Review”.

The NMC “apologised and promised action to address safeguarding concerns, and found that people working in the organisation have experienced racism, discrimination and bullying. The NMC takes this extremely seriously and will deliver a culture change programme rooted in the review’s recommendations [… ] Racism, discrimination and bullying should never have had any place at the NMC. Where it has been raised in the past, the organisation hasn’t taken enough action to address it and hold people to account. The report’s recommendations will help to address this and move the NMC towards achieving racial equity for its people […]  The NMC accepts the report’s recommendations.”

The iHV is joining with other nursing charities in calling for an urgent independent review of the NMC and the performance of its regulatory functions. Such a review is essential to restore public confidence and the confidence of the profession. It should include how the NMC manages fitness to practise cases, engages with the profession on standards, and how standards are assured for individual entry to the register.

Crystal Oldman, CEO of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, stated in an open letter to the Rt Hon Wes Streeting MP, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care:

“We are concerned that the Nursing and Midwifery Council will do little to address the issues highlighted by the whistleblowers; the NMC has already spent a considerable sum of money employing a reputation management company to help them manage the fallout from their own review of their culture. This suggests that they are more concerned about how the organisation is perceived than how it operates. We consider that an independent review is the only way to demonstrate to the public and the profession that the serious nature of the longstanding internal issues are not only recognised, but also that you are prepared to take immediate action to start to restore the NMC to a regulatory body in which the profession and the public can have full confidence.”

Alison Morton, iHV CEO, stated:

“Changes within the NMC are long overdue. This damning report shines a light on the human cost of years of failure to grapple systemic cultural issues within the NMC. Too many people have been bullied, harassed and subject to racial discrimination – this needs to stop! The learning from this review also extends beyond the NMC, highlighting inadequate wider system levers to hold regulators to account despite concerns being raised by senior nursing leaders, including the Chief Nursing Officers in all four nations. In order to regain the respect of the professions that it regulates and the public that it is intended to protect, it is vital that the NMC takes these findings seriously and deliver on all the recommendations in this report. Our thoughts are with the victims over so many years – and we extend our thanks and admiration to the tenacious work of nursing leaders and advocates who have campaigned tirelessly for change.”

Join the conversation