The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) governing council will consider the need for new ways to identify and consider the context of incidents in fitness to practise cases when it meets this week.

Matthew McClelland, NMC’s Director of Fitness to Practise, is set to tell the governing council that: “Our decision-makers already take account of context in considering seriousness and when identifying mitigating factors.  We have identified that we need new tools to gather information about context, and a new framework to help factor in context information throughout our proceedings.

“The tools and the framework we are developing will help us make sure we are systematic and methodical in our approach to identifying wider circumstances when things go wrong, and help our decision-makers to reach consistent, fair outcomes that they can explain clearly.

The NMC launched a new strategic approach to fitness to practise in July 2018 that confirms it always took account of the context in which nurses, midwives and nursing associates are practising.

The new fitness to practise strategic approach has yet to be formally implemented by the NMC which is clear from Mr McClelland’s comments above.

It is however encouraging that the NMC accepts that “…wrongly attributing blame to individuals will not help keep people safe because it will not stop underlying issues happening again.”

It also accepts that “…that systemic issues are a factor in many safety incidents.”

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