UNISON Notice of unsafe/unacceptable conditions for practice forms
1 April 2010
Bridget Hunter, UNISON Scotland's Lead Officer for Nurses and
"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