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Suspended for racial slurs: ‘lenient’ NMC ruling taken to the High Court

NMC’s controversial sanction against mental health nurse now subject of legal appeal
NMC and PSA logos – PSA is appealing against NMC FtP ruling in the High Court

NMC drew criticism for being too lenient in the sanction its fitness to practise panel gave mental health nurse Melanie Hayes

The case of a nurse suspended from the register for six months for making racial slurs has been referred to the High Court amid concerns the sanction was too lenient.

Mental health nurse Melanie Hayes was suspended by a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fitness to practise panel following a virtual hearing in May.

Controversial sanction by the FtP panel

This outcome sparked controversy, with concerns raised in the NMC, and the wider profession that a six-month suspension was too lenient. This led to the NMC inviting its own regulator, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to review the case

NMC drew criticism for being too lenient in the sanction its fitness to practise panel gave mental health nurse Melanie Hayes

NMC and PSA logos – PSA is appealing against NMC FtP ruling in the High Court

The case of a nurse suspended from the register for six months for making racial slurs has been referred to the High Court amid concerns the sanction was too lenient.

Mental health nurse Melanie Hayes was suspended by a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fitness to practise panel following a virtual hearing in May.

Controversial sanction by the FtP panel

This outcome sparked controversy, with concerns raised in the NMC, and the wider profession that a six-month suspension was too lenient. This led to the NMC inviting its own regulator, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to review the case – the authority has the power to appeal against NMC decisions in the High Court.

A PSA spokesperson said: ‘We decided to refer the case to the High Court because we consider that the decision is insufficient to protect the public.’

Racial insults directed at colleagues

The report of the NMC hearing related that Ms Hayes said on her last working day at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2018 that her new job would be ‘better than this one as I will be working with a team of white people’.

On another occasion she was found to have referred to colleagues at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as ‘spear chuckers’.

‘It’s right the High Court considers this case’

Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC chief executive

Ms Hayes, who did not attend the virtual hearing, had previously admitted the facts of the case.

The FtP panel had said it took account of Ms Hayes’ previously unblemished career, stating a striking-off order would be ‘unduly punitive’.

NMC says it is committed to learning from the case

Responding to news of the appeal, NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘It’s right the High Court considers this case.

‘I know the FtP panel decision in this case has caused significant concern and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for that.’

Ms Sutcliffe said the NMC was keen to learn from the case.


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