NMC plans new free speech and social media guidance

Nurse Miranda Hughes was removed from register for saying Tory voters ‘do not deserve to be resuscitated by the NHS’ and for other comments posted online
Photo of Miranda Hughes speaking on Channel 5’s Britain on the Brink debate

Nurse Miranda Hughes was removed from register for saying Tory voters ‘do not deserve to be resuscitated by the NHS’ and for other comments posted online

Miranda Hughes speaking on Channel 5’s Britain on the Brink debate. Picture: My5

A nurse has been removed from the Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) register for making inappropriate comments on a television programme and online.

It comes as the NMC confirmed it is set to publish new guidance on free speech and social media to support nurses in upholding the Code while expressing personal views.

Nurse’s comment sparks controversy

The NMC received complaints after registered nurse Miranda Hughes appeared on Britain on the Brink – a live debate on Channel 5 – in October 2022.

Discussing the health service during the debate, Ms Hughes told the audience: ‘I’m sorry but if you have voted Conservative, you do not deserve to be resuscitated by the NHS.’

When asked by host Jeremy Vine whether she would resuscitate people who voted Conservative, she said: ‘Of course I would.’

Nurse expressed wish to stop practising as a nurse

Ms Hughes was later referred to the NMC regarding her fitness to practise. There were further concerns regarding two social media posts she had published about the Tory party, which were deemed by some as ‘offensive’. But before a hearing could be held and allegations examined, Ms Hughes applied to the ‘agreed removal’ process.

This was authorised by the NMC after she confirmed she no longer wished to practise as a nurse, and she was removed from the register by mutual agreement on 15 August.

New guidance will address free speech and a nurse’s professional responsibilities

In light of the events the NMC confirmed it will publish new guidance for registrants to help avoid conflict between a nurse’s freedom of expression and personal beliefs and their duty to uphold the code and the reputation of the nursing profession.

NMC executive director of strategy and insight Matthew McClelland said: ‘Under our Code nurses, midwives and nursing associates put the people in their care first – and that means treating people with kindness and respect and not expressing their personal beliefs in an inappropriate way.

‘We firmly support the right to freedom of expression. Later this year, we’ll be launching new guidance, developed with input from key partners, to support professionals to express their beliefs without damaging public confidence in the professions or raising concerns about fitness to practise.’

NMC code of conduct addresses use of communication

The Code states that all registrants have a duty to treat people with kindness, respect and compassion.

It also states that nurses must use all forms of spoken, written and digital communication – including social media and networking sites – responsibly, and respect others’ right to privacy at all times.

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