NMC under investigation over governance and ‘toxic culture’
Nurse regulator to be scrutinised by Charity Commission after newspaper revealed an internal report had found fear could be compromising staff’s decision-making
The nursing regulator is being investigated over alleged toxic culture and concerns about governance.
The Charity Commission – the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has registered charity status – has opened a case to investigate NMC governance.
A spokesperson said: ‘We have received information detailing a number of serious concerns. We have opened a regulatory compliance case to assess this information and determine our next steps alongside other bodies.’
Newspaper allegations about racism and NMC fitness to practise cases
The NMC announced it would begin its own investigation after the Independent newspaper reported serious allegations about the working environment at the nursing regulator, including claims that racism is affecting fitness to practise cases.
The Independent said an internal unpublished report found a culture of fear in the NMC, with staff fearful of making or owning up to mistakes, was putting the public at risk because nurses who are not fit to practise are being left on the register without sanction, or are receiving inadequate sanctions.
‘I’m very sorry there are concerns about our culture today. We know we have much more to do to create the safe and inclusive environment’
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive, NMC
‘Serious weaknesses’ in governance and culture found in 2008
Back in 2008, then Labour health minister Sir Ben Bradshaw commissioned a report by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence – later the Public Standards Authority – in response to allegations of bullying and racism at the NMC.
The report found ‘serious weaknesses in the NMC’s governance and culture, in the conduct of its council, in its ability to protect the interests of the public through the operation of fitness to practise processes’.
Sir Ben told the Independent on 4 October he was ‘extremely concerned’ it appeared little had changed since 2008 and wrote to the Department of Health and Social Care and the Charity Commission urging them to investigate.
He therefore welcomed news of the new investigations. Sir Ben told Nursing Standard: ‘I am pleased action is being taken and am hopeful that improvements can be made.’
‘NMC organisation has changed significantly’
NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe, who joined the organisation in 2019, said: ‘The wide-ranging 2008 report into our performance and culture acknowledged the progress we had made at that time and our commitments to further improve.
‘While we have seen significant change within our organisation since then, I’m very sorry there are concerns about our culture today. We know we have much more to do to create the safe and inclusive environment that supports each of our colleagues to thrive and fulfil our purpose of protecting the public.’
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