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Winter pressures: nurses ‘unlikely’ to face disciplinary action

Nurses who ‘depart from established procedures’ during a challenging winter are unlikely to face disciplinary action, say nursing leaders in bid to allay fears
Winter pressures in hospitals

Nurses who ‘depart from established procedures’ during a challenging winter are unlikely to face disciplinary action, say nursing leaders in bid to allay fears

Nursing leaders across the UK have sought to allay fears about disciplinary action ahead of a busy winter when nurses may have to ‘depart from established procedures’.

Referrals to NMC will take winter pressures into account

Chief nurses and regulatory bodies have signed a joint letter acknowledging the ‘challenging’ winter ahead and the difficult position it could put nurses in when trying to

Nurses who ‘depart from established procedures’ during a challenging winter are unlikely to face disciplinary action, say nursing leaders in bid to allay fears

Nurses who ‘depart from established procedures’ during a challenging winter are unlikely to face disciplinary action, say nursing leaders in bid to allay fears
Picture: John Houlihan

Nursing leaders across the UK have sought to allay fears about disciplinary action ahead of a busy winter when nurses may have to ‘depart from established procedures’.

Referrals to NMC will take winter pressures into account

Chief nurses and regulatory bodies have signed a joint letter acknowledging the ‘challenging’ winter ahead and the difficult position it could put nurses in when trying to provide the best possible care.

The letter, signed by the chief nursing officers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland alongside the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and Care Quality Commission (CQC) assures nurses that in the ‘unlikely’ event they are referred for disciplinary action, the context for their referral will be taken into account.

‘In such challenging times, when you may need to depart from established procedures to care for people, we understand some could be fearful that they will be referred to your regulator,’ the letter states.

‘In the unlikely event that you are referred to your professional regulator, they will consider the context you were working in at the time, including all relevant resources, guidelines or protocols.’

The NHS is facing one of its toughest winters on record with more than 7 million people waiting for treatment and more than 47,000 nurse vacancies alongside the additional winter pressures of flu and COVID-19.

Nurses urged to consult the Code when faced with difficult decisions

The letter warned that sustained additional demand across all health and care settings is likely to be exacerbated by staff shortages due to sickness and caring responsibilities.

It urged nurses to refer to the Code and principles of practice when making decisions in difficult circumstances.

‘This includes taking into account local realities and the need at times to adapt practice at times of significantly increased national pressure.

‘Asking for help from others when you need it is good professional practice. We ask that you also seek support from your organisations if you need it.’

The letter concludes that all employers, educational supervisors, professional bodies, national health and social care organisations should be ‘flexible’ in recognising the challenging circumstances facing nurses this winter.


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