Expert advice

Legal advice: I am concerned that a colleague is taking shortcuts and putting patients at risk. What should I do?

Registered nurses have a duty under the NMC code to raise concerns if they believe the safety of patients or others is at risk, says legal expert Marc Cornock. 

Registered nurses have a duty under the NMC code to raise concerns if they believe the safety of patients or others is at risk, says legal expert Marc Cornock 


As a nurse, you have a duty under the NMC code to raise concerns if you believe
patient safety is at risk. Picture: iStock

Anyone raising a concern about colleague should be able to do so with the expectation that their concern will be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately, and that they themselves will be supported. 

As a registered nurse, you have a duty under the Nursing and Midwifery Council code to raise concerns if you believe patient safety, or the safety of others, is at risk. 

If you do not raise a concern, you could be considered to be failing in your duty. You will also have a duty to raise concerns under your contract of employment.

If you are a nursing student, your first action should be to discuss your concern with your mentor. If it is your mentor who is causing you concern, go to your university lecturer or liaison nurse. 

First opportunity

If you are neither a student nor registered with the NMC - if you work as a healthcare assistant, for example - your duty to raise concerns is based upon your contract of employment. 

Unless it is your line manager who is causing you concern, this is who you should go to first. But if your concerns are about your line manager, your employer policy should clearly state who you should report them to. 

If you do not feel that your concern has been dealt with appropriately, the policy should also outline how you can escalate your concerns. 

It is vital that you raise concerns at the first available opportunity. You may also want to keep a record of what you have done and when, and take advice from your trade union professional organisation. 


Marc Cornock is a qualified nurse, academic lawyer and senior lecturer at the Open University
 

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