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NMA warns of ‘cover up’ risk if nursing disciplinary hearings go private

The News Media Association has warned of a “risk of cover up” if proposals to hold nurses’ fitness to practice hearings in private go ahead.

The NMA, the trade body for the regional and national press, has responded to a Nursing and Midwifery Council consultation, which touts the idea of reducing the circumstances in which public hearings would be held for fitness to practice proceedings.

Another proposal put forward involves limitting the circumstances in which decisions should be published to when they resulted in a restriction being placed on a nurse’s practice.

The NMA and the Campaign for Freedom of Information provided advice to Barrow-in-Furness-based daily The Mail, which recently won an 18-month battle for transparency calling on the NMC to release a review looking at its decision not to suspend a midwife involved in the care of two babies who died.

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In its consultation response, the NMA said closed proceedings “generates the risk of cover up”.

It added: “Only by publicly addressing all allegations of misconduct can the NMC and the nursing profession rebuild the public confidence that they have lost through the secrecy and lack of transparency that endangered and harmed the lives of many patients.

“Covering up mistakes and other misconduct greatly undermines public faith in the profession and puts patients at significant risk because issues of competence cannot be dealt with.

“That is why it is so important that complaints and allegations of misconduct are handled publicly with the decisions published.

“Any type of closed procedure generates the risk of cover up that lowers public trust and undermines patient safety.”

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