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NMC vows to address training gaps after nurse struck off for racial slurs

This follows High Court decision to overturn its ruling to only suspend nurse Melanie Hayes

Vow to address training gaps follows High Court decision to overturn Nursing and Midwifery Council ruling to only suspend mental health nurse Melanie Hayes

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has vowed to address gaps in its guidance and training after a controversial ruling saw a nurse who made racial slurs suspended instead of struck off.

Fitness to practise (FtP) panel members’ training will now include real-life examples of people who have been subjected to racism and discrimination in a bid to ensure consistency in hearings.

NMC committed to securing full trust and confidence as an anti-racist organisation

Vow to address training gaps follows High Court decision to overturn Nursing and Midwifery Council ruling to only suspend mental health nurse Melanie Hayes

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said it would deliver a comprehensive training programme for staff and Fitness to practise panel members
The Nursing and Midwifery Council said it would deliver a comprehensive training programme for staff and fitness to practise panel members Picture: iStock

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has vowed to address gaps in its guidance and training after a controversial ruling saw a nurse who made racial slurs suspended instead of struck off.

Fitness to practise (FtP) panel members’ training will now include real-life examples of people who have been subjected to racism and discrimination in a bid to ensure consistency in hearings.

NMC committed to securing full trust and confidence as an anti-racist organisation

It follows a High Court decision to overturn an NMC ruling to only suspend mental health nurse Melanie Hayes for six months after she made racial slurs about her colleagues. Ms Hayes has now been permanently removed from the register.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said the organisation would deliver a comprehensive training programme to prevent cases like this from happening again.

‘We recognise there’s a long way to go to secure people’s full trust and confidence in us as an anti-racist organisation, but we are committed to getting there,’ she said.

‘We’ve found there were things that went wrong in this case as it progressed to the final decision, mainly caused by gaps in our guidance and training. That shouldn’t have happened and we’re very sorry about the impact our decision had on people.’

Training to include workshops to help staff understand impact of racism and discrimination

An NMC meeting report to address the failings calls for guidance to be clearer for staff and FtP panel members on what discrimination, bullying, victimisation and harassment are, and why any allegations relating to these must be taken seriously. Clarity on how these behaviours can adversely affect patient safety will also be improved, it added.

Training will include workshops to help staff and panel members understand the impact of racism and discrimination on a registrant’s fitness to practise.

Ms Hayes referred to colleagues as ‘spear chuckers’ while working at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2012.

And on her last working day at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2018, she said that her new job would be ‘better than this one as I will be working with a team of white people’.

In May the NMC, which cannot reopen cases once a decision has been made, referred the matter to its own regulator, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), to review the panel’s original decision. The PSA then appealed the decision at the High Court.

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.


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