NMC described as 'hotbed of bullying' in new report

An independent culture review into The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has described the regulator as a "hotbed of bullying, racism, and toxic behaviour."

The report was written by Nasir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor, and Rise Associates.

Afzal said in the report: "The NMC requires a reset, it requires a transformation."

He added: "The ‘job’ is one of the most difficult and emotionally draining of any that we ask of our fellow citizens. We also know that people don’t go into nursing for great financial rewards and yet it is one of the most important roles for a fully functioning society.

"How they are valued, how they care for their patients and the families, and how their profession is regulated should be the subject of public scrutiny all the time. Public safety is on the line in every decision taken.

"A good workplace culture drives performance, it delivers better outcomes, it celebrates success, roots out poor behaviour and embraces continuous learning. Leaders, through their actions or inaction, determine the culture that the organisation accepts."

However, the report warned that a backlog of fitness to practise cases was causing huge problems for staff, as good nurses were being investigated for years over minor issues and bad nurses escaping sanctions because the system was not functioning properly.

HR was also frequently cited as a major barrier to complaints being heard.

Many respondents to a survey included in the report felt the NMC had a problem with prejudice, as personal connections with managers and those in
charge of hiring appeared to be more important than ability. HR data showed us that, despite being a very diverse organisation, fewer staff from black ethnic groups were promoted to senior grades and there was a very palpable sense of injustice around this in the interviews and focus groups we conducted.

As the largest collective professional group within the NHS, 29 per cent of midwives are from ethnic minority backgrounds and this rises to much higher levels of up to 40 per cent in some regions such as London.

The NMC has apologised and agreed to implement all 36 recommendations made by the review.