The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) received 34 whistleblowing disclosures from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, a new report has revealed.
All 34 cases were dealt with via the NMC’s fitness to practise process and 16 cases were then referred onward to another regulatory body, according to the report.
The NMC’s director of fitness to practise Matthew McClelland argued that the whistleblowing report shows ‘just how seriously’ the regulator takes whistleblowing disclosures.
However, details of disclosures that did not meet ‘whistleblowing criteria’ were not included in the report, though the NMC said action was still taken on many of these.
The main reasons that a disclosure did not meet criteria was if it did not fall within the NMC’s regulatory remit or did not meet its public interest test, the regulator said.
A spokesperson for Whistleblowing charity Protect said that numbers of whistleblowing cases can be a ‘helpful indicator’ but ‘do not tell the whole story’.
They continued: ‘When we advise organisations on best practice whistleblowing practices, we encourage them to move away from a fixation on numbers, and concentrate instead on instilling trust so staff feel comfortable and reassured about speaking up about wrongdoing and risk. It’s important to encourage staff to safely speak up to stop harm – and thank staff for doing so.’
Healthcare regulators including the NMC have published an annual joint report on the whistleblowing disclosures made to them by workers since a legal duty that came into force in April 2017.
After a whistleblowing case is referred, the NMC can take regulatory action itself, refer it to an alternative body to decide whether further assessment or action is appropriate, or no action may be taken, sometimes because not enough information is available.
Regulatory action can involve a fitness to practise process, the opening of an investigation, advice or guidance, and registration actions.