Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Reinstate Margaret Haywood

This story is absolutely dreadful. Margaret Haywood, a nurse tried to do her best to highlight failings in elderly patient care within a hospital and when the internal procedures she followed did not improve things she filmed undercover for BBC's Panorama.

Her case was referred to Nursing and Midwifery Council which ruled that she should be struck off the nursing register in perpetuity. They also ruled that it was only the broadcast that had forced radical reform. In other words by her very actions she had massively improved things and as a direct result elderly patients are now less likely to be left in their own urine and faeces or be adminstered the wrong drugs and thus be left in agony.

Their reason for striking her off is because one of the patients who could be identified in the background film had not had his permission sought. This is despite the fact that Haywood and the programme makers were very thorough in trying to get permission from all the patients or their families to be included in the film - it seems that one slipped through the net. As Jenni Russell points out in the Guardian piece I linked to above, there is nothing in the whistleblowing rules specifically about this.

It strikes me that the NMC were looking for a reason to get rid of her and they managed to find (or contrive) one. The message is absolutely clear to any future whisleblowers. Yes, you may uncover bad practises and yes, your actions may ultimately improve things but you will lose your job and career as a result. So don't do it.

This is an appaling way for the NMC to behave. They are supposed to be there to uphold the standards of the profession and Margaret Haywood is a shining example to all her colleagues. She cared enough to try and make a difference. Some of her colleagues who knew full well what was happening but did nothing are the ones who should be being struck off. The NMC should itself be investigated by an external body for this travesty of justice and heads should roll. It is the only way that bodies like this will learn that they cannot close ranks like this and get away with it.

Please sign this Royal College of Nursing petition which is trying to get her reinstated and already has over 25,000 signatures. Please also contact the NMC to express your disgust at this decision.

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