NMC 'toxic culture' claims: regulator sets out how investigation will run
Investigation will also look at claims of sexism and of a culture of fear that makes NMC staff afraid of admitting to or making mistakes
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has set out how an investigation into claims of racism, sexism and bullying within the organisation will be run.
The regulator last month appointed employment and equality lawyer Ijeoma Omambala KC to investigate claims that fitness to practise cases had been mishandled, particularly those involving racism, discrimination, sexual misconduct and child protection, as well as an allegation that there was a culture of fear at the NMC which saw staff afraid of making or owning up to mistakes.
It agreed the terms of reference of the investigation at a council meeting on 22 November, including the formation of an internal advisory group that will provide insights and advice to the investigation.
According to the terms, outlined in the council papers, it will ask Ms Omambala to investigate, report and provide recommendations on whether whistleblowing concerns raised about FtP casework are ‘wholly or partially substantiated’, and if the regulator is failing to comply with its legal obligations.
Lawyer will assess if NMC’s culture affected FtP cases and how it has handled whistleblowing
She will also look into whether there is evidence that the NMC’s culture has affected its handling of FtP cases and how it has handled and responded to the whistleblowing concerns raised.
The damning claims were made to the Independent newspaper website by a whistleblower who also claimed there was institutional racism towards colleagues from black and minority ethnic backgrounds at the regulator. The newspaper site reported that an internal report in response to a whistleblower’s concerns found a culture of fear prevented NMC staff from raising concerns about unfair handling of FtP cases.
Discussing the investigation at today’s council meeting, council member Claire Johnston said while she was heartened by an ‘approach that is rooted in openness’, she wanted it to be more explicit that NMC staff could speak out when they notice early warning signs of something that could be wrong, as well as when something was wrong.
NMC will be transparent about the findings and about any actions it needs to take, says chief executive
Co-executive director of the terms of reference Lise-Anne Boissiere said she agreed the regulator did not want a culture in which people were waiting for something to go wrong before they raised concerns.
Ahead of the meeting, NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘These terms are clear that this is about learning the lessons that will improve our casework in the future. We’ll be transparent about the findings and about any actions we need to take forward to protect people’s safety.’
The regulator is also being investigated by the Charity Commission over the alleged toxic culture and concerns about governance.
The NMC confirmed in October that there will be a third external review which will focus on concerns raised about its organisational culture.
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