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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 16:45 GMT
Nurse regulator 'dysfunctional'
Nurse
The NMC regulates the UK's 700,000 nurses and midwives
The UK nurses and midwives regulatory body has an ingrained culture of "racism and bullying", an MP says.

Labour's Jim Devine called the Nursing and Midwifery Council dysfunctional in a Westminster Hall debate as he read out testimonies from whistleblowers.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw responded by saying he took the "long-standing problems extremely seriously" and was asking other regulators to intervene.

The NMC, which is in charge of 700,000 nurses and midwives, denies the claims.

Mr Bradshaw said he was asking the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) and Charity Commission to look into the accusations.

The NMC appears to be a fundamentally dysfunctional organisation
Jim Devine, Labour MP

He added that the "nuclear option" of a full Privy Council inquiry was still open to the government if the situation could not be resolved and confidence in the regulator rebuilt.

In a statement released after the debate, Mr Bradshaw said: "I take these matters extremely seriously.

"The large majority of the matters raised relate to internal matters concerning the internal proceedings and management of the NMC."

His intervention comes after Mr Devine, a former psychiatric nurse who has been campaigning for a while about the alleged problems at the regulator, raised the issue.

Integrity

Mr Devine said: "As a self-governing regulator, whose purpose is public protection in the public interest, the NMC should be run with integrity, competence and transparency.

"Unfortunately this appears not to be the case.

"The NMC appears to be a fundamentally dysfunctional organisation, where the priority of those in charge of the organisation is to maintain the status quo at the expense of proper transparency and good governance."

He said there appeared to be "an ingrained culture of bullying and racism as a means of preventing good governance in general and, in particular, any proper examination of what is going on".

The Livingston MP read out testimonies from anonymous whistle-blowers who had been members of the council.

One former member said the NMC had a "culture of institutional bullying" and "domination by a few individuals".

The NMC said it rejected the allegations and welcomed the minister's intervention.

A spokesman said: "Independent scrutiny will give us a chance to demonstrate that we are a fully accountable, open and transparent organisation which does not tolerate discrimination of any kind."



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