Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-patients-at-risk-as-regulator-fails-to-probe-nurses-and-midwives-accused-of-rape-amid-‘toxic’-culture-reducing-staff-to-tears,-damning-report-findsAlert – Patients at risk as regulator fails to probe nurses and midwives accused of rape amid ‘toxic’ culture reducing staff to tears, damning report finds

Patients were put at risk after regulators failed to investigate nurses and midwives accused of rape, harassment and child abuse, a damning report reveals today.

The independent review concludes the Nursing and Midwifery Council is ‘dysfunctional’ and such a ‘toxic’ culture that staff are unable to do their jobs properly.

The report’s authors told how staff broke down in tears ‘as they recounted their frustrations over safeguarding decisions that put the public at risk’.

One former employee described their section of the organisation as a ‘hotbed of bullying, racism and toxic behaviour’. 

Another said: ‘There was a fitness to ­practise case that we handled really badly and  children were harmed because we didn’t intervene and we didn’t apologise.’

The review was launched earlier this year following complaints about the culture at the council.

According to the findings, the regulator has a backlog of 6,000 cases, meaning some nurses are forced to wait up to ten years for their investigation to be completed, even though some are ‘baseless complaints where no further action is required’.

Meanwhile, others accused of serious wrongdoing have had their cases dismissed without an investigation because the alleged incidents occurred outside of the work place.

The independent inquiry was led by Nazir Afzal, the former chief crown prosecutor for North West England who was responsible for the prosecutions of the Rochdale  grooming gang. 

His report highlights six suicides or suspected suicides among nurses between April 2023 and April 2024 while they were going through the fitness to practise process.

Highlighting one case, the report says: ‘A nurse had been accused of sexually assaulting patients and raping a colleague after spiking their drinks. 

‘This was closed down on the basis that the rape was done outside of work after a social event and the sexual assault on a patient was ­carried out outside of a hospital. 

‘The nurse had also been accused of asking patients to go on dates and requesting their phone numbers.

‘Seven years after the NMC first received complaints, the nurse was finally struck off in 2024.’

In another case, one NMC staff member told investigators they were amazed a  registered colleague ‘can be in possession of category A child pornography and we  determine that’s part of their private life so no action is taken.’ 

The authors warned there was ‘dangerous groupthink’ at the regulator and highlighted how leadership did not take safeguarding warnings seriously.

Mr Afzal said: ‘The culture is dysfunctional and it’s taking a heavy toll on staff, but it is also impacting on their work. 

‘Good nurses are ­finding themselves being investigated for years over minor issues and bad nurses are escaping sanction.’

The NMC said the review would be a ‘turning point’ for the organisation and promised to deliver a ‘culture change programme’.

NMC chairman Sir David Warren described the report as ‘profoundly distressing’. 

He said addressing the issues would be ‘front and centre of change at the NMC’.

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