NMC will listen and learn from nurses and the public

Chair Philip Graf says the regulator is committed to improving how it deals with complaints

In his first column for Nursing Standard, chair Philip Graf says the regulator is committed to improving how it deals with complaints

Philip Graf: ‘We recognise the pressures you work under.’

As the new chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) I am delighted to share my first column with Nursing Standard readers.

Let me start by telling you a bit about my background. I grew up in Belfast in Northern Ireland, and my first ever job was over a summer as a labourer’s apprentice, helping to build a school. By some miracle that school still stands today.

After a brief stint on building sites in Reading, the majority of my career – over 30 years – was spent in the media industry, including as chief executive of Trinity Mirror.

Collaboration and teamwork

Most recently I have held the positions of chair of the Gambling Commission and deputy chair of communications regulator OFCOM.

Each of these organisations had ambitious agendas and a strong partnership between the chair, the council and the chief executive. It is this experience of collaboration and teamwork that I want to bring to my role at the NMC.

I joined the NMC at the beginning of May. I wanted this role because patient safety is very important to me, and is at the heart of what the organisation does. Almost as important as keeping the public safe through effective regulation is the way we at the NMC treat everyone we come into contact with, including nurses and midwives.

Compassion and respect for families

Earlier this year the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), our regulator, published a report showing we had let people down in the way we handled complaints about failings at Morecambe Bay. The recent report into failings at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire also showed that the way we have treated people historically wasn’t good enough.

‘I want us to improve the way we deal with complaints about nurses and midwives. We recognise the pressures you work under and we know that, very occasionally, things can go wrong’

I am absolutely committed to making sure that we learn from the mistakes of the past and that, going forward, we put people at the centre of everything we do and treat families with more compassion and respect, ensuring their concerns are properly addressed and listened to. We will be providing better support for those raising concerns with us through our new public support service.

I also want us to improve the way we deal with complaints about nurses and midwives. We recognise the pressures you work under and we know that, very occasionally, things can go wrong.

To help encourage openness and learning, we want to take account of the context in which nurses and midwives work when mistakes happen. We will also be working more closely with employers to resolve concerns more quickly and will be rolling out these changes over the coming months.

So what else has been going on at the NMC since I arrived? I was delighted to see our flagship programme, revalidation, celebrate its second anniversary earlier this year.

More than 400,000 nurses and midwives have successfully revalidated, and many of you have told us how revalidation is helping you reflect on your practice and having a positive impact on your work.

Review of application process

The health and care workforce is hugely diverse, and those trained outside the UK are highly important and valued. We want to make it as straightforward as possible for people to join our register, no matter where in the world they trained.

This is why we are carrying out a complete review of the application process for people trained outside of the UK.

In the coming months we will be introducing a new online application system and improved guidance and support, which will help to ensure those with the right skills and knowledge to work in the UK can join our register as quickly and easily as possible.

Held in high esteem

I have been in my new role for five months now and am learning a great deal. But one thing that was clear to me long before I joined the NMC is just how valued nurses and midwives are by the British public.

You play such an important role in everyone’s lives, and the outpouring of affection for your work on the 70th anniversary of the NHS shows the high esteem in which you are held.

I am proud to be the chair of the NMC. Over the coming months I look forward to keeping you up to date with our work through my regular columns for Nursing Standard.

Philip Graf is chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council

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