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October 2019

NMC launches emotional support service for nurses in fitness to practise cases





Nurses, midwives and nursing associates involved in fitness to practise (FtP) can now access a free and confidential support service. 

Launched on World Mental Health Day, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is introducing a 12-month Careline pilot. 

The resource, operated by an independent provider, has been introduced a year after the NMC set up a support service for members of the public who complain when things go wrong with their care.  

The NMC’s Careline will provide emotional support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for nurses and midwives across the UK, and nursing associates in England, who are involved in FtP processes.  

Choosing from ether Freephone, LiveChat Email or Skype, professionals can contact specially trained counsellors, anonymously if preferred, who are experienced in handling sensitive topics.

While NMC staff will remain the direct point of contact for all case-specific enquiries, the Careline offers advice on any aspect of the fitness to practise process – such as the investigation, public hearing or events leading up to a referral – as well as signposting professionals to other appropriate health or wellbeing services that can help with their individual needs. 

Meanwhile, as part of the NMC’s new approach to creating a more open, fair and learning culture, new guidance is also being finalised to help those on the register better understand how they can demonstrate they are fit to practise in the event a complaint is made against them. This might include reflecting on what went wrong and undertaking extra training.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said: ‘The Careline marks another important step forward in truly humanising how we operate. 

‘Less than one per cent of around 700,000 professionals on our register are engaged in our fitness to practise procedures, but we know that it can have a profound effect on those that are. The impact on someone’s physical and mental wellbeing as a result of being under such scrutiny mustn’t go unrecognised.   

‘I hope the Careline, and our forthcoming remediation guidance, further encourages support and learning when things do go wrong in nursing and midwifery care. Together, let’s help ensure that all those involved in our processes are treated with kindness and respect.’

Health Minister, Nadine Dorries, said: ‘Fitness to practise proceedings can be emotionally draining for the patients and families involved, but also the clinicians – facing one of the hardest and most mentally draining periods of their career. Opening the doors for them to have round-the-clock access to specially trained counsellors is an important step in safeguarding their wellbeing.’

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary at the RCN said: ‘For any registrant, going through fitness to practise can be a stressful and traumatising experience and we are pleased to see the NMC develop a pilot which could offer extra assistance to those who get referred to the regulator’. 

You can find out more about the Careline here https://www.nmc.org.uk/concerns-nurses-midwives/information-under-investigation/ftpcareline/