Revalidation articles

What you need to know about the new NMC code of conduct

The revised Code contains the professional standards that registered nurses and midwives must uphold.

The Code contains the professional standards that registered nurses and midwives must uphold. UK nurses and midwives must act in line with the Code, whether they are providing direct care to individuals, groups or communities or bringing their professional knowledge to bear on nursing and midwifery practice in other roles, such as leadership, education or research.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) can take action if registered nurses or midwives fail to uphold the Code. In serious cases, this can include removing them from the register.

The Code is central to the revalidation process as a focus for professional reflection. It will give the Code significance in a nurse’s professional life, and raise its status and importance for employers. The Code contains a series of statements that taken together signify what good nursing and midwifery practice looks like. It puts the interests of patients and service users first, is safe and effective, and promotes trust through professionalism.

Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do:

  • Prioritise people
  • Practise effectively
  • Preserve safety, and
  • Promote professionalism and trust

There have been changes in healthcare and society since the previous Code was published in 2008. The revised Code reflects these changes with new requirements on:

Fundamentals of care

This covers the essential aspects of caring for a patient, including making sure that a patient has adequate access to nutrition and hydration.

The duty of candour

Nurses and midwives should be open and honest with colleagues, patients and healthcare regulators when things go wrong.

Raising concerns

Nurses and midwives should raise concerns without delay if they are aware of a threat to patient safety or public protection.

Delegation and accountability

Nurses and midwives should make sure that they delegate tasks and duties appropriately, and that those to whom they delegate complete tasks to the required standard.

The professional duty to take action in an emergency

Nurses and midwives should take action in an emergency when off-duty, within the limits of their competence.

Social media use

Nurses and midwives should use social media responsibly, in line with NMC guidance.

The Code also makes clear that responsibility for those receiving care lies not only with the nurse or midwife providing hands-on care, but also with those nurses and midwives working in policy, education and management roles. The Code contains a series of statements that taken together signify what good nursing and midwifery practice looks like. It puts the interests of patients and service users first, is safe and effective, and promotes trust through professionalism.

Prioritise people

You put the interests of people using or needing nursing or midwifery services first. You make their care and safety your main concern and make sure that their dignity is preserved and their needs are recognised, assessed and responded to. You make sure that those receiving care are treated with respect, that their rights are upheld and that any discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards those receiving care are challenged.

Practise effectively

You assess need and deliver or advise on treatment, or give help (including preventative or rehabilitative care) without too much delay and to the best of your abilities, on the basis of the best evidence available and best practice. You communicate effectively, keeping clear and accurate records and sharing skills, knowledge and experience where appropriate. You reflect and act on any feedback you receive to improve your practice.

Preserve safety

You make sure that patient and public safety is protected. You work within the limits of your competence, exercising your professional ‘duty of candour’ and raising concerns immediately whenever you come across situations that put patients or public safety at risk. You take necessary action to deal with any concerns where appropriate.

Promote professionalism and trust

You uphold the reputation of your profession at all times. You should display a personal commitment to the standards of practice and behaviour set out in the Code. You should be a model of integrity and leadership for others to aspire to. This should lead to trust and confidence in the profession from patients, people receiving care, other healthcare professionals and the public.

For more information on the NMC code of conduct, visit: the NMC website.

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