Saturday, 15 June 2019

NMC Fitness to Practice destroys staff

So often when staff are referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Fitness to Practice (FtP) court the allegation being made is unjustified or worse still, untrue and therefore unsubstantiated.

Unfortunately the FtP panels start from the premise that the allegations are true and the registrant has to prove otherwise.  Of course that is completely against natural justice let alone human rights but only the powerless registrants seem to know practically of this grave injustice, when the malpractice unfolds before them at their hearing.

Cathryn Watters was a very experienced oncology nurse.  She left an unsatisfactory post, looked at finding her next step through agency work, didn’t find anything that met her requirements and then landed a dream job with a private company. 

She was about a year into working there when she received a letter from the NMC informing her that one of the dates on her certificates had been altered.  The NMC were investigating the possibility that the alteration had been made in order to deceive.

Shocked, Cathryn informed her employer and notified the agencies she’d applied to even though she had never progressed beyond applying.  She had no idea why or how the date on the certificate had been altered but immediately ensured that records were corrected.   (It remains a mystery… was it a disgruntled colleague...was the form never accurate in the first place…who knows …)

Cathryn wrote this poem after the FtP found her guilty and she was ‘struck off’ the register, that very expression underlining the immensity of this outcome.  She had been found guilty because she failed to admit her dishonesty, showing no insight!  It takes my breath away to write that.  What devastating injustice. 

Her poem eloquently describes the impact this verdict had on her.  

She dedicated it to the 15 nurses who died whilst waiting for their FtP cases to be concluded, such is the impact of this lengthy and horrendous process.


This day I put my faith in you,
And hoped you’d see my side.
I sat there, tried to listen hard,
But really only cried.

This day I put my faith in you,
I respected all you said.
I felt I owed you everything,
I believed each word I read.

This day I put my faith in you,
I thought you’d have my back.
But as I sat and listened,
I began to see the cracks.

This day I put my faith in you,
I should have stayed at home.
Today you walked away from me,
You told me I was done.

This day I lost my faith in you,
My PIN is yours to hold.
It was never mine, but on loan to me,
And now it’s yours I’m told.

This day I lost my faith in you,
You brandished me unfit.
My years they count for nothing,
I disappear… I sit.

This day I lost my faith in you,
As you listened to the lies.
I thought you’d care for me as well,
I’m not worthy in your eyes.

This day I put my faith in you,
But you washed your hands of me.
So now I try to build my life,
Scarred by NMC.

This day I lost my faith in you,
I have nowhere I can turn.
The largest part of me is gone,
There’s no lessons that you learn.

This day I tried to find the strength,
Not to hold my head in shame.
I know I did the best I could,
I was not the one to blame.

This day I try to carry on,
To see that I am more,
Than just my PIN, my life as a nurse,
My growth, my ethos and my core.

This day our patients lost their chance,
To have my care and skill
Your panel took that chance away,
One less to help the ill.

One day you may a lesson learn
That few of us recover
Broken by your lack of care
A line of souls to suffer.

Dedicated to the 15 nurses who died since April 2015,
 before their Fitness to Practice cases concluded.

NMCWatch supports nurses and midwives affected by the Fitness to Practice process.
If you would like to support visit:

Monday, 11 February 2019

How to protect yourself if you need to blow the whistle.

An honest practitioner with a very high level of integrity, wishes to ‘come out’ about the failure of an NHS service in their area, as serious as any already in the public domain, costing lives.

What does that person have to do, to ‘come out’ safely and unscathed?  Is it even possible?

Even writing these questions feels dangerous, such is the corrupt nature of some of our NHS management.

For example, in order to prepare for his whistleblowing, a consultant had his mental health checked before he blew the whistle because he knew they would say he was mentally ill - and they did!  He had the evidence to show he was in fact perfectly sane.

If an activist ‘comes out’ the huge danger is that management will make false allegations and the activist will be suspended with all that follows, therefore stopping the campaign and  causing the activist long term harm.

Would it be possible to take a very very low profile, to be unidentifiable?  Or even resign from post. And then be active.
What a choice to have to make.

Might there be a high profile champion, and would this champion be safe from false allegations and action against them too?  Probably not judging by the high profile people who have become victims over these last years.   Ironically, allowing the failings, even knowing they are in the wrong, seems to drive management forward, loudly proclaiming their innocence almost as a matter of principle, or is it all about protecting themselves?

Craig Longstaff is a veteran whistleblower.  He added the following very insightful safety requirements.

(1) If someone wants to be "active", they need to go to the very top & garner full support from the chief executive officer, or resign & then become active.

(2) NEVER blow the whistle or rock the boat from within, while you are vulnerable & dependant on them paying you - find another job, resign (stating why in the resignation letter - as per recent case law on the issue of resignation letters / dismissal claims) - & blow the whistle in writing on the exit day.

(3) Ensure, before they start rocking the boat / striking the match, that the person has up-to-date appraisal / performance reviews (& get copies if they don’t have them) that are dated & signed by both the staff member AND (especially) the senior/reviewer.

Hopefully this will show positive outcomes; they need to make sure it is covered & documented in their appraisals that management have no issues.

When the time comes - & sadly on balance it will - where they are accused falsely, investigated & the chronology of "issues" is back-trawled (it has been known to be 4 years and longer)  they  can use their appraisal/s to link sudden changes to any "non-compliant" activity managers are claiming, thus creating legal causal link to bullying and harassment /victimisation.

(4) Be mentally & emotionally aware of the ramifications of good actions around socio-psychopathic managers & HR staff; you can never prepare for the depths they stoop to, but you can be aware & try to counter.

(5) In any investigation say as little as possible  because they WILL "misinterpret" & manipulate your words to fit their intended outcome.

It is for them to prove guilt, not the accused to prove their innocence, whilst countering any "evidence" presented where necessary.

If possible, make written statements only (so first meeting/s, let them know nothing will be said until the very end when they've provided all their accusations & evidence - be VERY aware of trap interview tactics. Reply to their questions with more questions, rather than pliable verbal replies / statements, as much as possible.

(6) Finally, keep focused & see the wood for the trees (keep situationally aware & avoid tunnel vision), & don't become a victim - I did, & I'm still recovering.

There is a lot of published research to support what is being written here.  Here is one such powerful recent example.

Dr Rachael Pope has found organisational silence to be a significant aspect of NHS organisational dysfunction that is very powerful and stops those organisations from learning and changing, hence recurrent public inquiries into failed and failing NHS services that may cost patients their lives.

Dr Pope’s research has identified a culture of blindness, deafness and destructive behaviours that effectively silence and destroy.

Staff are afraid to speak out.  Their actions won’t hit brick walls but instead effective silencing actions that can engulf and destroy them.

How different it would be if the NHS was willing to listen and learn honestly in a culture of respect.

See Organizational silence in the NHS: 'Hear no, see no, speak no' -

The practitioner alone has to make the decision, one they can live with.

For myself, I would leave the organisation with all the evidence I required, get settled in my new job and then ‘blow that whistle’ but knowing that it would be a costly and lonely journey to take.

Yours sadly,