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Concerned nurses "must speak up": NMC

An industry body has called for nurses to speak up if they suspect a problem.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said that nurses have a professional responsibility to highlight and act upon professional concerns.

The call came as the NMC launched its consultation on the processes of raising and escalating concerns - and asked whether its guidance on the subject was easy to understand.

NMC Head of Midwifery, Christina McKenzie, said it was crucial for people to speak up over problems - even for those working in small communities where they may come into contact with the person they are complaining about.

She added: "We need to know what people think. Does it explain where they can go for help? If we're not achieving that then we're not helping them deal with these situations.

"It can be difficult for a whole variety of reasons. It may be because of working in small, closed groups and that could be across the health service, but you have a professional responsibility."

The consultation closes on 31 March.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Nursing cannot afford in this 21st century to be divided and
ruled yet again, I personally was delighted when the toxic two-tier section of nursing came to a close and people were allowed to upgrade to RGN first level, now we have the HCA level the old feuds are raging. If people want to be nurses they should be given the opportunity to be trained as nurses and qualify in the profession they have chosen. We do not see medical doctors having a two-tier system, why then in nursing? This has wider implications of some employers cutting corners to pay less for services which ought to be carried out by a trained nurse. Would we tolerate to be treated by a second two-tier doctor, of course not. If nursing wants to be taken seriously as a profession it ought to train its professionals to a high standard and get rid of this toxic two-tier system" - Sylvia Sinclair, London

"I'd like to add to Julie Mott's points - firstly about HCAs being
perceived as nurses. While HCAs are a valued part of the team for certain tasks, they are not nurses - so patients should not be misled in this regard. At a recent Regional meeting of the Local Involvement Network (LINKS) groups, the point was raised that the different members of the nursing team should be clearly identified. Secondly, it can be hard for Practice Nurses to get appropriate training to give the high standards of care they would like. Some face pressure from their employers to cut costs; for example, by having less-qualified nurses to deliver management of long-term conditions. Support from professional bodies such as the RCN is needed, rather than advice to 'leave the practice' as was the case at last year's PNA Conference. Personally, I have worked hard to gain diploma-level qualifications and, like other nurses see the benefits in improved patient outcomes, including NHS savings due to a reduction in unplanned care" - Catherine Gleeson, West Yorkshire

"Too much is 'swept under the carpet' but eventually something happens and investigations take place; sadly, these 'investigations' take far too long and are too late. Nurses that could give evidence are long gone when anything is attempted to be done. I have been nursing for over 40 years and could give real-life examples of this, some of which is happening as I write! Sadly, too much is allowed to go on for too long and anyone who makes a stand for patients and colleagues 'get short-changed'; I can give you current examples of this also" - Jacqueline Habgood-Painter, Dorset

"We currently employ a registered community nurse in the role of HCA. She is still registered but was employed for maternity cover as a HCA. How is that covered by NMC rules and professional responsibilities? As practice nurses we were not consulted and would have voiced our concerns at this. Since her employment our objections have been ignored" - Name and address supplied

"Why bother? When I raised concerns over patient care I was cut out of the normal reporting sequence of events. I was told when I made a face-to-face enquiry about the outcome of my complaint that the management had decided that I acted maliciously, so the concerns - ranging from racist remarks, lying to patients and breaching confidentiality by a doctor - were disregarded" - Jeanne McComasky, Germany

"I have concerns regarding just how much the NMC and the RCN get involved. What happens in the case of a HCA doing the same job as a RGN in primary care? This particular person wears the same navy blue as the F/G grades, and patients are informed to make an appointment with the nurse; this includes the HCA and patients are not told this when booking their appointments. If this was a purchase under trade descriptions there would be hell to pay and it would be investigated" - Julie Mott, W Midlands

"Linda Jones does not seem to understand that the SEN was not incorrect in saying she was an RGN - in fact she is officially RGN level 2" - Helen Reynolds, Midlands

"All well and good, but the NMC needs to take complaints seriously and be seen to act. We reported a nurse who was claiming to be something she wasn't - RGN when only SEN - and had not done a conversion course. NMC investigated and found there was no case to answer...But she was only an RGN and she got away with it. Made the NMC look weak and ineffectual and certainly I was not proud of my professional body" - Linda Jones, South Devon

"Just want to know - who is a professional? I believe a professional is an individual who has been trained and qualified to practise without supervision on his/her chosen area of interest. All qualified nurses are professionals. Does a professional needs to be given instruction before he or she does her job? Do we nurses need to downgrade and put ourselves into problem because some of us are opportuned to be on a management level and are looking for colleagues to manage? Does a professional who has been trained need to be supervised by somebody even when he/she is competent to do his/her job and has got the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and education. All of the above are not operating at the community level. I am worried about this and has been bothering me. Where do we nurses leave our prioritising, respecting each other, accountability and using our initiative when we work according to NMC code of professional conduct. Everything that applies to professional working at the secondary level should applied to those at the community setting" - Maryam Omitogun, South West