The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) has appointed Ijeoma Omambala KC to lead an “independent investigation” of fitness to practise cases involving discrimination, racism, sexual misconduct & safeguarding issues.
The announcement follows a series of reports by The Independent citing a NMC whistleblower who said their concerns, flagged to the NMC, were met with “the same defensive management culture, prioritisation of its own reputation over its legal obligations, and poor treatment of whistleblowers that has recently been criticised as the reason for Lucy Letby not being prevented from practising earlier”.
Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said on the NMC website:
Together with my executive colleagues and our Council, I’ve reflected deeply on the recent articles in The Independent about the way we’ve handled some of our Fitness to Practise (FtP) cases, especially those involving discrimination, racism, sexual misconduct, child protection and safeguarding. I’m more determined than ever for the NMC to fully embed a safe and inclusive working environment that supports all our colleagues to thrive, and delivers effectively on our primary purpose of protecting the public.
I’m sorry anyone has concerns about our culture, and the regulatory decisions we take. We’re committed to a rigorous, transparent and independent response to the concerns. That’s why we’ve appointed Ijeoma Omambala KC to lead two investigations over the next few months – one into the way we’ve responded to the concerns raised, and another into the fitness to practise cases highlighted in those concerns.
Ijeoma’s appointment follows a rigorous process in which we had discussions with a range of individuals with extensive regulatory experience. Ijeoma has experience in breadth and depth: in a legal career spanning more than 30 years, she has investigated high-profile discrimination, sexual orientation and belief claims, whistleblowing cases, and disability, age and maternity discrimination complaints. I’m absolutely confident she’s the right person to provide the independent scrutiny we need. We’ll make sure she has access to external clinical professional expertise to support her work.
She further confirmed that, alongside Ijeoma’s two investigations, a third external investigation over the coming months will focus on the concerns raised about the regulator’s culture, saying:
“To start with, we’re forming an internal advisory group of diverse colleagues to share experiences and suggestions with our Council. This will help us proceed in the best way possible, including appointing the right independent expert to lead us forward in this area.“
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