The BBC reported in May this year that the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the regulatory body for nurses and midwives, is acting upon the recommendations of Robert Francis QC in the Mid-Staffs enquiry.
The NMC is consulting on a new code of practice, which aims to set the professional standards of behaviour, conduct and ethics of nurses and midwives. The revised code builds on the code that has been in place since May 2008. Amongst other things, it expects nurses and midwives to do the following:-
- Act immediately to put matters right if someone in your care has suffered harm for any reason or been the victim of a ‘near miss’ and explain promptly to them what has happened and the likely effects.
- You must exercise your professional duty of candour and give a constructive and honest response to anyone who complains about the care they have received, including an apology where appropriate.
- Those with management or leadership responsibilities must ensure that those they are responsible for are: enabled and supported to comply with the Code at all times; have the knowledge, skills and competence for safe practice; and understand how to raise any concerns linked to potential or actual breaches of the Code.
We are delighted to see reference to the duty of candour, and even more pleased that the code uses the definition of Robert Francis QC in the Mid-Staffs report. For many years we have campaigned for a duty of candour as a way of the NHS identifying mistakes in an open and accountable fashion which will lead to improvements in patient care.
It is also heartening to see that nurses or midwives with leadership responsibilities are to ensure that those they manage are protected from any adverse consequences following raising a concern. In May this year I blogged about a Telegraph interview with a doctor who had his concerns "brushed under the carpet." Protecting practitioners brave enough to raise concerns has to be at the heart of reforming the culture of the NHS and ultimately, protecting patients.