The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) has appointed Nazir Afzal OBE and Rise Associates to lead an independent review of it culture that the NMC said is part of its commitment to learn and improve “so we can deliver our regulatory work as well as possible.

The review follows concerns raised within the NMC about issues including racism, sexism and a lack of freedom to speak up. Nazir and Rise Associates will seek to understand the scale and roots of the issues, and advise us on how we can make and sustain the step change in experience that our colleagues deserve and need to thrive. 

An internal advisory group, including a diverse range of NMC colleagues, has been instrumental in identifying Nazir and Rise Associates as the right experts to carry out this independent review. The group has provided advice and challenge throughout the appointments process, have helped to shape the terms of reference and will continue to support an open and transparent investigation.  

Nazir and Rise Associates bring significant experience in helping underrepresented groups to be heard, providing independent analysis and challenge, and working with organisations to review and sustainably improve their cultures. 

We expect this work to take at least four months. We will publish the findings and the actions we take forward as we strive to become an organisation where inequalities are tackled and prevented, and diversity is celebrated every day. 

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Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said:  

“We’re here to protect the public, and to do that, every colleague at the NMC needs to feel valued and be supported to deliver our purpose effectively. It’s essential we foster an open, inclusive and high performing environment in which we all feel able to thrive. We need our colleagues to feel empowered to deliver all our regulatory work effectively, making fair decisions that keep the public safe.  

“We’re incredibly pleased to be working with Nazir and Rise Associates, who have a track record in helping organisations to improve and embed supportive cultures. We welcome this golden opportunity to get to the root of the issues highlighted and make a meaningful and permanent step change that will benefit our colleagues, the professionals on our register and the people we’re here to serve.” 

Sir David Warren, Chair of the NMC Council said: 

“The Council takes the concerns raised about our culture very seriously indeed and we welcome the appointment of Nazir Afzal and Rise Associates.  I’m confident that their rigorous and independent investigation will help us to embed a culture where our values – of fairness, kindness, ambition and collaboration are consistently reflected in the experience of our colleagues and everyone we work with.” 

On being appointed, Nazir Afzal OBE, said:  

“It is a great honour to be asked to undertake this important work and our team is looking forward to getting started. Nursing and midwifery are the bedrock of healthcare but there have been too many care scandals in recent years where a defensive culture within health and care services has caused great harm, and that’s why it’s so important we have a high performing regulator to keep the public safe.  

“Over the next four months, we intend to get to the heart of the NMC’s culture and the way this affects its work, and do everything we can to help ensure every member of staff enjoys dignity at work, feels empowered to speak out and is able to act on complaints and put the health, safety and wellbeing of the public first.”   

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