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  Nursing: Unsafe practice forms

UNISON Notice of unsafe/unacceptable conditions for practice forms

1 April 2010

Bridget Hunter, UNISON Scotland's Lead Officer for Nurses and Midwives writes:

"Many nurses in UNISON are increasingly finding themselves in the dilemma of being torn between the fears of losing their job against the fear of being struck off the NMC register when the ward or department where they work make changes to the conditions that affect the care they deliver. Some of the changes come about very gradually such as a reduction in the number of staff in a ward, a loss of the level of skills mix or an increase in workload or caseload numbers.

"In many of these cases the nurse will feel that there is nothing they can do in these situations as unions are involved in partnership locally and at Scottish level and are cooperating with workload and workforce planning. This is not so, every nurse is solely accountable to the regulator who will, always and without hesitation, act in the public interest.

"I would remind every nurse practitioner that he/she is accountable for their own actions or omissions on safe practice. Referrals to the NMC have increased in recent years. It is not a defence to the regulator to say I did nothing because everybody did the same and I was instructed to get on with it. Nurse Managers are equally accountable to the regulator and could find that they too could end up in the dock if they do nothing about a slide in standards of care.

"Several years ago we developed a form for the notification of ‘Unsafe/unacceptable conditions for practice’ which we used as a lever with management against reductions in staff numbers and care standards in general and I think that the time is right to revamp that form and encourage our members to protect their registration and at the same time press employers to maintain the quality, dignity and accountability that is expected by users of the NHS in Scotland. In the coming years as a result of the recent economic climate the entire NHS will be under scrutiny as it falls under the public services and we all need to realise that we play a part in whether or not we permit or are accepting by default a decline in standards within the NHS.

"Please disseminate these forms widely and encourage all nurses to use them."

Bridget Hunter, April 2010




Page updated: 1 April 2010