A new buddy scheme pilot is being launched to support nurses and midwives whose fitness to practise is being investigated.


The “Buddy – hold my hand” pilot will begin in September and is being run by the campaign organisation NMC Watch with funding from the Laura Hyde Foundation.

Under the scheme, nurses and midwives being investigated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council or undergoing a local employment dispute will be offered one-to-one support from an allocated “buddy” across up to 10 hourly sessions.

Cathryn Watters, a registered nurse and founder of NMC Watch, explained that all the “buddies” in the scheme would be registrants who had been through fitness-to-practise (FtP) procedures themselves.

“The buddy is there not to make any judgement about the case but to virtually hold their hand through it,” Ms Waters said.

The pilot will run for 12 months from September, recruiting 10 buddies to support 30-50 registrants. If the pilot is successful in securing longer-term funding it will then be expanded to a wider cohort.

Liam Barnes, trustee chair from mental health charity the Laura Hyde Foundation, said: “The people we support face regular traumatic situations in their daily work, however, they do the job they love because they care.

“When they experience a situation whereby that care is questioned, the impacts of this can be significant to their mental health often causing long term health impacts that must be proactively addressed at the start and not towards the end when it is too late.”

A survey carried out by NMC Watch in 2019 found that being under FtP investigation can have a major negative effect on self-worth, and can cause financial hardship as well as a loss of professional and personal identity that lasts beyond the proceedings.

The NMC is rolling out a new approach to FtP that it claims is more people-centred and is less about blame.

In a recent blog post, Andrea Sutcliffe, the NMC’s chief executive and registrar said this new approach would not only be kinder and fairer to people but would be more efficient, helping to clear the backlog of FtP cases which has built up further as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

She added: “These changes will help us to reduce this caseload quickly and fairly. They’ll also help us to make the right decisions, at the right time. And they’ll ensure that people’s concerns are handled appropriately at every stage.”

The NMC’s annual FtP report, published earlier this month, showed that only 208 final decisions were reached by the FtP committee’s independent panels in 2020-21, compared with 452 in 2019-20 and 661 in 2018-19.


SOURCE: Nursing Times