NMC reveals its new fitness to practise support service

Regulator pilots 24-hour emotional support line for registrants undergoing FtP proceedings

Regulator pilots 24-hour emotional support line for registrants undergoing FtP proceedings

The NMC will pilot its fitness to practise Careline support service for 12 months
Picture: iStock

Nurses involved in fitness to practise (FtP) proceedings will now have access to an ‘emotional support service’ established by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The free and confidential 24-hour Careline service is operated by an independent provider and will be piloted for 12 months by the regulator.

Emotional support and information on NMC proceedings

The NMC’s latest annual report revealed that in 2018-19 four nurses were recorded as having died by suicide while under FtP investigation.

The new service will operate 365 days a year, offering emotional support to nurses, midwives and nursing associates. Registrants can access structured counselling sessions, delivered either face to face in a counsellor’s consulting room, via phone or Skype, or online using email or a secure chat room.

The service will also offer information and advice on the FtP process – for example, the investigation, public hearings or events leading up to a referral.

Impact of FtP process on registrants’ well-being

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said the service marks another step forward in ‘humanising’ how the organisation operates.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe
NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe

Ms Sutcliffe said although fewer than 1% of the 700,000 professionals on the register are engaged in FtP procedures, the NMC recognised the profound effect on those that are.

'The impact on someone’s physical and mental well-being as a result of being under such scrutiny mustn’t go unrecognised,’ she said.

The regulator has faced criticism in the past over the lack of mental health support offered to registrants undergoing FtP proceedings.

How to demonstrate fitness to practise

Welcoming the new service, RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘We are pleased to see the NMC develop a pilot which could offer extra assistance to those who get referred to the regulator.’

The NMC is also finalising new guidance for registrants on how to demonstrate their fitness to practise in the event a complaint is made against them. This might include reflecting on what went wrong and undertaking extra training.

Contact the FtP Careline by calling 0800 587 7396.

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