Your views

Are rules on accepting thank-you gifts from patients too harsh?

NMC stance on nurses accepting gifts is a necessary protection and upholds trust in the profession, say some – but for others, it’s a rule ripe for review

NMC stance on nurses accepting gifts is a necessary protection and upholds trust in the profession, say some – but for others, it’s a rule ripe for review

A nurse was recently struck off by the regulator for failing to declare a £100 cash gift from a patient’s relative, claiming it had been £20.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code states that nurses must refuse ‘all but the most trivial’ gifts and they should consult their employer’s policy before accepting a gift.

But how do we define ‘trivial’, and is it time for the NMC to refresh the rules? Nursing Standard readers have their say.

    NMC stance on nurses accepting gifts is a necessary protection and upholds trust in the profession, say some – but for others, it’s a rule ripe for review

    Hands holding a wrapped gift
    Picture: iStock

    A nurse was recently struck off by the regulator for failing to declare a £100 cash gift from a patient’s relative, claiming it had been £20.

    The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code states that nurses must refuse ‘all but the most trivial’ gifts and they should consult their employer’s policy before accepting a gift.

    But how do we define ‘trivial’, and is it time for the NMC to refresh the rules? Nursing Standard readers have their say.


    Liz Charalambous is an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Nottingham
    @lizcharalambou

    It seems perfectly reasonable and sensible to have rules in place to protect nurses from allegations of fraud and avoid accusations of providing preferential treatment. The Code lays out the standards to which we must all adhere, to protect individual nurses, patients and carers. There are also considerations for the organisation, as well as concerns about bringing the nursing profession itself into disrepute. I would feel uncomfortable to be offered money as a thank-you gift when a heartfelt message in a card means so much more.


    Jandryle Trondillo is a care home manager
    @jaytrondillo

    I work in a care home and gift-giving to staff is common practice, especially on special occasions such as Christmas. Each company has their own policy and should ensure staff are aware of the procedures in place. Accepting gifts and not declaring them is serious misconduct. Trust is one of the foundations of nursing – if a nurse is dishonest when accepting monetary gifts, how can we trust their professional practice? We all have the duty to uphold the integrity of our professional values and it is good that the NMC does not tolerate this dishonesty. Nurses are motivated by providing outstanding care, and seeing our patients happy and cared for is worth more than any gift.


    Rohit Sagoo is founder and director of British Sikh Nurses
    @RohitSagoo

    Accepting gifts from patients is difficult; although some gifts may be small tokens of appreciation, others can be overly generous. We must explore the context and reasoning for any gift, to avoid offending families or patients who are happy with the care they have received and see it as a fitting token. The rules must be relaxed regarding accepting and receiving gifts, so nurses can appreciate the kindness of patients and their families. There should be new guidance on what is acceptable, what is not, and what can be donated to NHS charities. Whatever the value, a gift demonstrates appreciation for your nursing care.


    Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

    I think the rule needs to be reviewed in its entirety. Who decides what is a ‘trivial’ gift and what is not? How would patients feel knowing their gift was accepted because it was deemed trivial when for them it may have been anything but? If patients wish to give gifts, so long as they are declared, I do not think this should be a problem. There should be a review body for unusual or extravagant gifts, with a definition of what is meant by extravagant, for example money or gifts over a certain value.


    Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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