The head of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has reaffirmed a commitment to developing a ‘safe and inclusive working environment’ following a newspaper report accusing the organisation of operating under a ‘culture of fear’.
An article in The Independent online newspaper has claimed that nurses and midwives accused of serious sexual, physical and racial abuse have been allowed to keep working on wards because whistleblowers are ‘being ignored’ by the NMC.
The report, which claims to have gathered evidence from internal NMC documents, quotes an anonymous whistleblower who said ‘deep-seated toxic conduct’ within the organisation is leading to skewed and failed investigations.
The whistleblower told The Independent: ‘I and other colleagues have repeatedly escalated our concerns internally, but the NMC has failed to demonstrate the reflection and insight it expects of the nurses, midwives and nursing associates on our register.’
The NMC said it took the concerns raised in the report ‘extremely seriously’ and was ‘committed to responding in an open and transparent way’.
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar of the NMC, said: ‘I’m sorry there’s concern from anyone about our culture at the NMC.
‘It’s essential that people feel able to speak up without fear and I’m grateful that these concerns have been raised with us and I take them extremely seriously.’
Ms Sutcliffe added: ‘We will carefully investigate all of the concerns raised in line with our established procedures.
‘We will be transparent about the findings of that work including any further actions that we plan to take.
‘I want to reaffirm my personal commitment to developing a safe and inclusive working environment where all our colleagues are supported to thrive so we can effectively deliver on our primary purpose to protect the public.’
The NMC said it is actively reviewing its guidance for decision makers in regard to cases involving sexual misconduct, domestic violence, domestic abuse and safeguarding issues to ‘help ensure the right decisions are made to keep the public safe’.
It also said it had strengthened its guidance in relation to cases involving racial discrimination and had delivered ‘comprehensive training’ to legal professionals and decision makers in support of the guidance.
‘We’ve taken steps to strengthen our ways of working in these areas, as well as in fitness to practise more broadly,’ said Ms Sutcliffe. ‘However, we know we have much more to do, and work is actively underway.
‘We are committed to being an organisation that learns and improves.’