5 Regulation of nurses in the UK
Nursing in the UK is regulated by a body called the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), where all registered nurses, midwives and nursing associates have their details held on a database called the Nursing Register. The NMC not only holds the Register but also produces standards of good practice, and a code of professional practice for nurses and midwives called The Code. Additionally, they produce standards for education that all universities who offer nurse education must adhere to.
A key role of the NMC is to protect the public and to guide nurses and midwives in their professional practice. If a nurse, midwife or nursing associate is not practising safely, the NMC may investigate to ensure the public are protected.
Activity 8 The work of the NMC
First, watch Video 4 about the work of the NMC.
Transcript: Video 4
Having watched the video, consider why you think it is important to have a regulatory body to protect the public.
You may have come up with suggestions such as because nurses are working with vulnerable people or because nurses are on a national register. Both of these are true. The NMC holds a register that all registered nurses (and nurse associates) are part of. In order to protect the public, the NMC monitors the practice of all nurses on the register.
What do you think makes a good nurse?
You may have included attributes like honesty and patience, but also specific skills and knowledge. A nurse is a combination of skills, knowledge and attitudes, and these are reflected in The Code (Nursing & Midwifery Council, 2018).
Now watch the short animation in Video 5 from the Nursing & Midwifery Council that focusses on one element of The Code.
Transcript: Video 5
Do you think a nurse is a nurse even when they finish their shift at work and go home?
Why do you think it is important that nurses can demonstrate professionalism in both their day-to-day work and outside of work?
Being a nurse is not just about maintaining professional standards while working. As you saw in Video 5, how nurses behave when they are not in work shapes the confidence the public have in nursing as a profession. For example, imagine a scenario where someone was breaking the law or being cruel or unkind and you found out that person was a nurse. Would you have confidence in them if you knew they might be delivering your care one day?
The Code guides nurses and their professional behaviour whether at work or not.