According to a recent report by Nursing Times, the NMC has appointed a senior employment barrister, Ijeoma Omambala KC, to investigate the handling of fitness-to-practise cases and the treatment of whistleblowers.
The NMC has announced two investigations to be conducted by Ms. Omambala, with a third external investigation planned to address concerns about the NMC’s culture.
The Independent has previously raised questions about the NMC’s competency in managing fitness-to-practise cases, and concerns about staff members within the NMC feeling unheard and a prevailing "culture of fear" preventing individuals from speaking out. Additionally, reports suggested instances of sexism and racism within the NMC itself.
In response to the article in the Independent, Andrea Sutcliffe, the CEO and registrar of the NMC said: “I’m very sorry to any colleagues who haven’t felt safe at work, or who have experienced racism or sexism. We want everyone to feel supported, safe, and able to thrive in the workplace.”
“An external investigation will look into our culture and working environment. This will be shaped by a diverse internal advisory group of colleagues, which we have now established. They will share their experiences and suggestions with our executive team and Council. We’ve also brought in specialist counselling support for colleagues who feel they would benefit from it.”
According to Nursing Times, Ms. Sutcliffe endorsed the choice of Ms. Omambala for the investigations, citing her 30 years of legal experience and ensuring her access to external clinical professional expertise. She emphasised that discrimination has no place in the health and care sector and that the NMC is continuously working on improvement.
Ms. Sutcliffe disclosed that the NMC is in the process of reviewing guidance for decision makers overseeing cases of sexual misconduct, domestic abuse, and safeguarding. This updated guidance is expected to be finalised by February.
Regarding inclusivity, Ms. Sutcliffe expressed her regret for anyone who has experienced or observed racism, sexism, bullying, or harassment at the NMC. She emphasised the importance of a zero-tolerance approach for the benefit of all colleagues.
The Charity Commission also recently announced a regulatory compliance investigation into the NMC over the same concerns.
Ms. Sutcliffe acknowledged the need to rebuild full trust in the organisation and emphasised the commitment to supporting professionals in providing care and maintaining an inclusive, fair, and values-driven work environment. The NMC is in communication with the Charity Commission and pledges to “listen, learn and most importantly act”.