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Abolish the NMC: MP hits out at decision not to strike off ‘bullying’ nurse director

Helen Lockett was suspended for failing to report risks to patient safety at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust
NMC headquarters in London

Helen Lockett was suspended for failing to report risks to patient safety at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has come under fire for not striking off a former nurse director who bullied colleagues and failed to address multiple patient safety risks.

Instead, the regulator suspended Helen Lockett, director of operations and executive nurse of the now-defunct Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, for 12 months.

Now an MP, who referred Ms Lockett to the NMC because of care a relative had received, is calling for the nurse regulator to be disbanded.

Nurse director was found to have compromised patient safety

An NMC fitness to practise (FtP) panel ruled Ms Lockett had been responsible for a range of management failings that compromised patient safety because she had failed to

Helen Lockett was suspended for failing to report risks to patient safety at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust


NMC headquarters in London  Picture: Barney Newman

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has come under fire for not striking off a former nurse director who bullied colleagues and failed to address multiple patient safety risks.

Instead, the regulator suspended Helen Lockett, director of operations and executive nurse of the now-defunct Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, for 12 months. 

Now an MP, who referred Ms Lockett to the NMC because of care a relative had received, is calling for the nurse regulator to be disbanded.

Nurse director was found to have compromised patient safety

An NMC fitness to practise (FtP) panel ruled Ms Lockett had been responsible for a range of management failings that compromised patient safety because she had failed to report:

  • Inadequate staffing levels.
  • Non-completion of staff training.
  • Difficulties in obtaining equipment.
  • Concerns about medication administration.

The regulator heard that on one occasion, Ms Lockett told a more junior colleague they were a 'big disappointment' and had wasted a 35-year career in nursing.

‘NMC has let down the nursing profession’

Labour MP for West Lancashire, Rosie Cooper, said the NMC's failure to remove the nurse from the register brought it into disrepute.

She said: ‘The NMC has let down the nursing profession from beginning to end of this disgraceful episode. At the beginning – by not listening to nurses who reported what was happening – and at the end, by not caring enough to protect staff and patients.’

Ms Cooper vowed to raise the issue in parliament and to refer the NMC to the healthcare regulators' own regulator, the Professional Standards Authority.

Case for striking off had been put to FtP panel

The NMC had argued the case for a striking off at the FtP panel. Deputy director of FtP, Clare Strickland, declined to comment on the result during the period when an appeal could begin.

However, the regulator said officials will review the case at a meeting tomorrow. 

 

Nurse had an otherwise unblemished 30-year nursing career

In its ruling, the FtP panel said it would not remove Ms Lockett from the register in recognition of the difficulties the trust had faced before she joined, in 2011, and following her departure in 2014.

The panel noted Ms Lockett’s otherwise ‘unblemished and successful’ 30-year nursing career and contended it was not in the public interest permanently to remove 'such an experienced and respected nurse' from practice.

Registrant demonstrated limited insight into her behaviour

But the panel did raise concerns that Ms Lockett showed limited insight in accepting some responsibility but seeking to blame others too. 

The panel was concerned Ms Lockett could repeat her behaviour in future.

Ms Lockett has 28 days to appeal against the decision and an interim 18-month suspension order has been issued to cover this process. 

The services run by Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust have now been taken over by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.


Related Material

NMC hearing: Helen Lockett


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