Andrea Sutcliffe said hospitals and care homes are failing to properly investigate incidents before referring nurses to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), fuelling a blame culture and repeat failures. 

She is reported to have said: “I genuinely do not believe you get safe effective care by making nearly 725,000 people scared of their regulator.”

She told The Independent this emphasis on blaming the individual meant underlying causes of safety errors were being missed and so they were likely to be repeated. Her ambition is to transform the nursing regulator, which oversees 725,000 nurses and midwives across the UK, into a more forceful watchdog that will flag systemic issues of concern with NHS trusts and care homes.

The NMC recently published new fitness to practise resource for employers “to support them when concerns are raised about a nurse, midwife or nursing associate’s practise.”

The Independent reported that Ms Sutcliffe said she was worried about the blame culture in the health and care sectors saying some employers referred nurses unnecessarily.

“The sorts of things we might get is where something may have happened, and actually they’ve not completed their own investigation yet. The immediate response has been to identify an individual and to refer that individual to their regulator, when they’ve not undertaken any investigation locally, to determine whether that’s the right and proper thing to do.

“If your automatic reaction is to say ‘something has happened and who is to blame’, and the first thing you do is refer them to their professional regulator without considering anything else, then you don’t get the learning, you don’t really know what happened.”