Chief Nursing Officers and Nursing and Midwifery Council issue a joint statement to reassure nurses facing Covid pressures.
The joint statement said:
As we all know, there are already sustained additional pressures on the NHS and across all sectors and settings of health and care provision. Staffing shortages due to sickness, Covid-related absences or caring responsibilities are adding to the pressures and despite actions to date to address this, the impact on staff both personally and professionally will be profound and potentially prolonged throughout the coming months.
We recognise how difficult the situation is, and that you’re likely to have concerns about both the professional practicalities and implications of working in such circumstances. We are committed to doing what we can to ensure you feel supported, as you support those in your teams to deliver the best possible care through this challenging time.
The NMC Code
Similar to previous statements, the Chief Nursing Officers and NMC assured nurses who might be anxious about difficult decisions that might have to make. The statement continued:
As registered professionals we know you and your teams are practising in line with the NMC Code and use your professional judgement, taking account of the realities of the high pressured situations you are working within. The NMC Code is here to support you and, even in the most difficult of circumstances, is a valuable tool to help guide practice.
We know from what you tell us that in some situations clinicians may need to depart from established procedures to care for people in these highly challenging but time-bound circumstances. This does not necessarily mean that clinicians are breaching the Code, but it does imply a higher level of risk for professionals who are having to rely more on their own independent professional judgement to make difficult decisions.
We recognise that your professional focus is the safety of the people you are caring for and your teams, and we know you will continue to work with your colleagues and employer to raise issues and suggest improvements using your professional judgement to continually assess and reassess risks.
We understand why you may feel anxious about how the consequences of difficult decisions made in challenging circumstances may affect you and your staff, particularly if ultimately, there is a poor outcome. We know that you are feeling vulnerable, and a common concern that people raise with us, is the fear of being referred to the NMC. We want to reassure you that although referrals are still relatively rare, should this happen the NMC considers context in all of its fitness to practise decision making. In doing this, it considers the specific facts of each individual case, as provided by the professional as well as the referrer, including policies in place at the time.