Readers’ panel: should suspensions have been lifted for some nurses amid the pandemic?
The NMC removed the fitness to practise sanctions to help boost the front-line workforce
In May, it was reported that four nurses suspended from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register were allowed to return to practice as part of efforts to bolster the workforce to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Nursing Standard readers have their say.
Liz Charalambous is a teaching associate at the University of Nottingham
I believe in giving people a fair hearing and an opportunity to repair any previous wrongdoing. However, this raises questions about the NMC’s fitness to practise process, the expectations of nurses and the potential exploitation of those returning to practice after having sanctions lifted in extraordinary times of national crisis. As a profession, we must adhere to the rules that uphold our professional standards or risk sending a confusing message to both the public and nurses.
Grant Byrne is a fourth-year nursing student in Edinburgh
In the middle of this pandemic, the last thing we need is competent nurses sitting on their hands because of past misdeeds. However, it is appropriate that the NMC is reviewing sanctions case by case. People make mistakes and this carries consequences, but in nursing we often witness the human capacity for change. Where the NMC has reduced or removed sanctions, it must have done so based on the evidence, with the nurse deemed safe to practise. It is a pragmatic move and I support it.
Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London
Perhaps the NMC should review alternative measures that can be taken for nurses who act in a way that is unethical or immoral but does not put patient lives at risk. Instead of suspensions, could there be greater use of probation and appropriate repercussions? So these nurses can still practise, but any further infringement will lead to the loss of their registration. If these nurses are so valuable that their talents are needed in practice, a system that could harness their talents while also enabling fair and judicial consequences for their actions may be a better pathway to consider.
Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London
What does this say about the NMC fitness to practise process? The nurses who returned to practice may not pose a risk to patient safety, but they were still suspended from the register. Issues with the fitness to practise system have been raised before, and this just adds to them. When a senior nurse who bullied staff on an industrial scale is given a similar sanction to a nurse who worked shifts at other trusts while off sick from her own, the system is broken.
Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only