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NMC ‘confident in due diligence processes’ amid concern over interim CEO hire

NMC ‘confident in due diligence processes’ amid concern over interim CEO hire

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has defended the appointment of its new interim chief executive following concerns about her link to an NHS race discrimination case.

The nursing regulator said it was ‘confident’ in its ‘due diligence processes’ regarding the hire of Dawn Brodrick who will today replace Andrea Sutcliffe – who has stepped down due to illness.

The NMC had announced last week that chief people officer and lead director at the Crown Prosecution Service Ms Brodrick would become its new interim leader.

But concerns have emerged over her previous role as chief people officer at King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust. She held the role at a time when an employment tribunal ruled a black IT manager was unfairly dismissed, and suffered racial discrimination by the trust.

The tribunal awarded Richard Hastings – who was dismissed for gross misconduct after being accused of assault following a dispute in a workplace car park – a reported £1m.

And it ruled the investigation as ‘fundamentally flawed’.

Although Ms Brodrick was not named in the judgement, the tribunal document said the trust had not followed its own policies around equal opportunities and fair disciplinary hearings.

It also said that despite a ‘large’ HR department, the ‘investigation followed was one sided and inadequate and the minutes of the hearing and appeal were lost’.

Speaking to Nursing in Practice, Roger Kline, a research fellow who helped create the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), described his ‘disbelief’ at Ms Brodrick’s hire.

Together with former Labour health minister Ann Keen, he wrote a blog outlining his concerns over the appointment of Ms Brodrick, including: ‘This case cost the NHS well over £1million. It cost Mr Hastings his career.’

They said the case sent ‘a message’ to black and minority ethnic staff at the trust that ‘at the time would defend the indefensible when it came to racism’.

‘The trust “apologised” but there was no serious learning in the months that followed,’ the blog said.

The blog added that Ms Brodrick’s appointment at the NMC ‘raises questions’.

‘The least the NMC can do is to explain why due diligence did not flag these issues as potential obstacles to the appointment – or if they didn’t, to explain why. Did no one on the Council ask any questions?’ it added.

‘Nurses and midwives deserve better.’

Commenting on the interim appointment, Queen’s Nurse and race equality consultant Michelle Cox, who also won a historic race discrimination cases against the NHS, stressed the need for the NMC to ‘be led by those with a thorough grasp of anti-racist practices and demonstrate a lifelong commitment to that cause’.

‘In my experience as a black nurse that not only faced racism and public interest disclosure act detriment, I was also left with the lifelong scars that that journey entails,’ she said.

‘It is therefore vital that the NMC senior leadership is skilled, knowledgeable and effective for its global majority members not just simply “competent” in the area of racism.

‘They must understand the impact and damage caused to the individuals that experience workplace discrimination but the harm it causes to patients and the nursing profession.’

Defending the NMC’s decision to appoint Ms Brodrick, Sir David Warren, chair of the NMC’s Council, said: ‘The Council considered the capabilities and experience we need from an interim chief executive and registrar.

‘In the context of the challenges facing the NMC, we felt that front and centre was the need for someone with experience of leading change in complex, purpose-driven organisations, who feels passionate about the NMC’s purpose.

‘Dawn impressed us on each of our requirements, and we’re confident in our due diligence processes.’

The nursing regulator has faced previous criticism for its ‘culture of fear’ and in May commissioned a review of its Fitness to Practice (FtP), following concerns around the differences in referral outcomes for minority ethnic nurses.

Last month, the NMC announced it was opening up applications for its FtP panels, and especially encouraged applicants from BAME backgrounds to apply.

Nursing in Practice has attempted to reach Ms Brodrick for comment.

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