Allegations of bullying and racism in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) are to be examined by a watchdog, the government has announced.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw said he is taking the claims "extremely seriously", and has written to the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE).
He added: "If the internal processes of the NMC and neither of the measures I have outlined are sufficient to resolve the problems of the council, then the government would not rule out formally asking the Privy Council to investigate, although this really would be a nuclear option."
It comes after Livingston MP Jim Devine read out testimonies from former members of the council, one of whom said the NMC has a "culture of institutional bullying".
But an NMC spokesman said: "The Nursing and Midwifery Council rejects allegations made by Jim Devine MP.
"There is an open invitation to Mr Devine and his colleagues to meet us to discuss their concerns and to give us an opportunity to respond. We are saddened that they felt unable to do so.
"We very much welcome the minister's intervention and the opportunity for independent scrutiny of our governance and operating processes by the Charity Commission and the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.
"We are confident that this will provide us with the opportunity - thus far denied - to put forward our case."
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"I cannot speak for the NMC but bullying is huge in the NHS. It's the most debilitating form of abuse and costs the NHS a huge amount of money, what with sick leave etc. My suggestion to stop this is act promptly. If it is proven (by keeping a diary) then the people/person involved gets a yellow
card given to them. Three yellow cards and they are asked to leave. Not sure how this would work in this country, it's just a suggestion. It's definitely time to act. These costs can go towards the patients' better care" - Name and address supplied
"Bullying is ongoing throughout the nursing service. I have almost committed suicide as a result of bullying. Going to management makes it worse they then start bullying in. They know your weakness. RCN are of no use." - Name and address supplied
"Until now I always think people complain of bullying and racism when their work is not up to expectation. I am currently experiencing that one can be frustrated in other for the bosses to achieve their own hidden agenda. I have seen this happening in my place of work for the past six months and unfortunately extending to patients." - Name and address supplied
"Bullying is a common problem at grass roots level among all NHS staff both nursing and support workers. I personally attribute this in main to staff who reach management level without specific training in the person management role. Being a good nurse, doctor, consultant etc does not teach one the ability to manage staff in my opinion." - Mr M Heyes, Senior Occupational Health Nursing Advisor. Agency staff
employed at present by the NHS
"I have found within nursing there is a lot of bullying going on by senior managament and no matter how you try to take this forward it just increases the bullying and the NMC cannot support members in this matter as they only advise and the advice given is already what you are doing. I am leaving a post within the NHS due to bullying and harrassment by senior staff members and other staff who are friend of the managers joining in the bullying by making up stories and allergations." - Name and address supplied
"I worked at the NMC for 3 years and left recently. I definitely saw bullying while I was there - it's ingrained and endemic and has cascaded to all levels. I wasn't personally bullied but did witness it, frequently on a daily basis." - Name and address supplied
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