The NMC, the nursing and midwifery regulator for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has recently launched a new public support service (the “PSS”) which will be of interest to regulators in this jurisdiction. The PSS was introduced in response to the Professional Standards Authority’s (“PSA”) Lessons Learned Review May 2018.
The PSS is for any patient, service user, family member or a member of the public who has raised concerns about a nurse, midwife or a nursing associate on the NMC register, where the NMC has decided to investigate these concerns.
Public Support Officer
Complainants will now receive one to one support with a dedicated, named contact who will be available to them throughout the process. When a complainant contacts the PSS, a public support officer will offer to meet with the complainant to explain what happens when the NMC investigates a nurse, midwife or nursing associate and what the possible outcomes might be. This can also be done over the telephone if the complainant prefers.
This discussion allows the complainant to ask the public support officer anything they are unsure about. It also gives the NMC a chance to make sure that they fully understand the complainant’s concerns, ensure that the NMC have all the relevant information to help the NMC investigate, and the NMC can also provide details of other organisations that can offer further help.
As part of their interaction with the PSS, the complainant will also be put in contact with an investigation officer. The investigation officer handles the investigation from start to finish and will be the complainant’s main point of contact throughout the investigation. The investigation officer will also collect and share information and evidence to support the investigation and will update the complainant on the progress of the investigation.
After the NMC have decided what needs to happen in relation to the complaint, the public support officer will offer to meet with the complainant again. This meeting will either be at the end of the investigation or at the end of a fitness to practise hearing. The public support officer will explain the outcome of the NMC’s investigation and will be able to provide details of other organisations that can offer further help. The complainant can bring a friend, family member or supporter to the meeting.
Sarah Seddon, the first complainant to contact the PSS said the following in relation to her experience of the service:
“During my first five months of contact with the NMC I felt let down, alone and confused – my complaint felt like just another in a long line, being handed from one person to another. During that time no one ever said they were sorry to hear about what had happened to me.
Trying to get someone to hear me was exhausting – I wasn’t writing emails for the fun of it.
Since being in contact with the support service my opinions of the NMC have been completely reversed. I finally saw compassion, quick responses and I was spoken to as an equal. I believe that the NMC should be very proud of the way that their public support service is developing. It is not a ‘nice to have’ service – it is absolutely essential. It really did make an enormous difference to me.”
The NMC has published an information leaflet in relation to the PSS entitled ‘public support meetings’. Click here to access the full leaflet.