News

We must all play our part in tackling racism, says NMC chief

Andrea Sutcliffe says stamping out discrimination falls on everyone’s shoulders

Nursing and Midwifery Council CEO Andrea Sutcliffe says stamping out discrimination falls on everyone’s shoulders

The head of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has called on all members of the regulator to play their part in tackling racism.

Appointing diverse fitness to practise panels is a step in the right direction

It comes as the NMC reaffirmed its commitment to make fitness to practise (FtP) panels more diverse in a bid to ensure fairer outcomes at hearings about racism and bullying.

NMC chief Andrea Sutcliffe said that while appointing diverse panels was a step in the right direction, the responsibility of stamping out racism falls on everyone’s shoulders.

‘We cannot just pretend, or believe, that

Nursing and Midwifery Council CEO Andrea Sutcliffe says stamping out discrimination falls on everyone’s shoulders

The Nursing and Midwifery Council reaffirmed its commitment to make fitness to practise panels more diverse
Picture: Charles Milligan

The head of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has called on all members of the regulator to play their part in tackling racism.

Appointing diverse fitness to practise panels is a step in the right direction

It comes as the NMC reaffirmed its commitment to make fitness to practise (FtP) panels more diverse in a bid to ensure fairer outcomes at hearings about racism and bullying.

NMC chief Andrea Sutcliffe said that while appointing diverse panels was a step in the right direction, the responsibility of stamping out racism falls on everyone’s shoulders.

‘We cannot just pretend, or believe, that the only people who can sort racism out are people who come from a black or an ethnic minority background,’ she said.

The comments came during an NMC meeting on 24 November when members discussed the lessons learned from a controversial ruling that saw mental health nurse Melanie Hayes suspended instead of struck off.

The High Court later overturned the NMC ruling and Ms Hayes was permanently removed from the register.

Ms Hayes made several racial slurs, including calling colleagues ‘spear chuckers’ while working at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2012.

NMC panel members should hear and listen to opinions that differ from their own

Other council members agreed that more diverse panels were crucial, but that panel members must be able to speak up.

Council member Marta Phillips said that new and established panel members must be able to ‘hear and listen to an opinion that is different from their own’.

‘Having someone from a black, Asian and ethnic minority background on the panel is clearly a good thing. But if they are not the kind of person who is prepared to push back on the other members of the panel, who might be going in a different direction, then it’s not going to provide us with the outcomes that we want,’ she said.

The NMC also vowed to address gaps in its training, which will now include real-life examples of people who have been subjected to racism and discrimination to ensure consistency in hearings.

Limited success of campaign to attract more people from minority ethnic backgrounds

Guidance for FtP panel members will also be changed to be clearer on what discrimination, bullying, victimisation and harassment are, and why these allegations must be taken seriously.

The NMC has previously committed to making its FtP panels more diverse, but a campaign to attract more people from minority ethnic backgrounds had limited success. The NMC meeting in July revealed just 14 of 82 new panel members identified as black, Asian or minority ethnic, increasing the number from an ethnic minority background to just 12.2%.

Data obtained by Nursing Standard this month revealed 75 nurses and midwives were referred to the NMC for race discrimination in 2020, up from just four in 2015.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Cancer Nursing Practice
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs