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Ministers to meet with NMC following scathing review

Ministers to meet with NMC following scathing review

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that ministers will be meeting with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to discuss a review which exposed bullying and racism at the regulator.

The independent culture review was authored by former public prosecutor Nazir Afzal, with Rise Associates, and exposed ‘a deeply toxic’ culture where burnout and mismanagement were putting staff at risk and impacting key safeguarding decisions.

A DHSC spokesperson said: ‘This review is deeply concerning and must be acted upon by the independent Nursing and Midwifery Council. Ministers will be meeting with the NMC to discuss the review and their response to it.’

They added: ‘Bullying and racism are unacceptable. It is vital that whistleblowers are free to speak up, knowing that they will be supported, and their concerns will be listened to and acted upon.’

The DHSC has said it expects the NMC’s council ‘to respond with swift and robust action’, in line with the ‘clear recommendations’ that were set out in the review.

The NMC issued an apology on Tuesday and promised action to ‘deliver a culture change programme’ following a series of recommendations in the report.

The review outlined serious concerns with the NMC’s fitness to practise (FtP) processes, and suggested that action was being taken ‘against good nurses’ while ‘bad nurses get away with it’.

One example cited that complaints about serious sexual misconduct and alleged rape were made against a nurse in 2017 but that they were not struck off until 2024.

The review also highlighted concerns that criminal behaviour by registrants was excused because it was deemed to be a private matter.

And in a shocking finding, the review team uncovered that six nurses had taken their lives in the past year while under investigation by the NMC.

Nursing charity the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) has written to the health and social care secretary to demand ‘immediate action’ in response to the report, with QNI chief executive Dr Crysyal Oldman and chair Professor John Unsworth urging the government to commit to an ‘urgent independent review’ of the NMC.

The QNI is now calling on all NMC registrants and nursing organisations to back its appeal for an inquiry.

Speaking on BBC Woman’s Hour yesterday, the NMC’s council chair Sir David Warren said the regulator ‘must eradicate’ the poor working conditions faced by its staff and ‘correct’ concerns around its FtP processes.

‘I want to say sorry to our staff, because nobody should be working in those conditions and in that environment. And we must eradicate it. I want to say sorry also to the registrants who are caught up in fitness to practice processes, which are far too protracted or many of which are far too protracted,’ he said.

Earlier this week the DHSC confirmed the appointment of two new ministers – one for health and one for social care.

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South for almost 10 years and previously a non-executive director of a primary care trust, will take on the role as minister of state for health.

And Stephen Kinnock, who became an MP in 2015 and represents Aberafan Maesteg in Wales, will become the new minister of state for care.

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