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NMC strengthens decision-making guidance on concerns outside professional practice


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has taken steps to strengthen its guidance in relation to concerns arising outside professional practice, including sexual misconduct, domestic abuse and discrimination. Lauranne Nolan, Associate and Safeguarding Lead in the Keoghs specialist abuse team, considers this further.


The Code

The Code is a set of enshrined professional standards that nurses, midwives and nursing associates must uphold to be registered to practise in the UK. It is structured around four themes: prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. Each section contains a series of statements that, when taken together, signify what good nursing and midwifery practice looks like.


The Concerns

While it is acknowledged, as in all professions, that all nurses, midwives and nursing associates have the right to a private and family life, the NMC sometimes receives concerns about behaviour outside of professional practice. This behaviour can lead to questions being raised about a professional’s ability to uphold the Code, especially where those concerns relate to sexual misconduct, domestic abuse or discrimination. Concerns relating to these areas are behaviours that are likely to impair a professional’s fitness to practise and put them at risk of being removed from the register.

An individual’s behaviour in their private life could call into question their suitability for the profession. The Angiolini report published earlier this year was commissioned to uncover the circumstances and failures that led to the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer in 2021. The report highlighted significant opportunities that were missed by multiple police forces that could have stopped Wayne Couzens from committing this terrible crime and called for an overhaul of police vetting and recruitment.

The police acknowledged that while they have already made a series of significant changes to police vetting, disciplinary and dismissal procedures, they did need to go further as a result of the recommendations on non-contact offences and the escalatory risk that they may pose. This appears to align with the steps taken by the NMC to enhance their guidance and maintain public confidence and trust in the profession.



The majority of abuse claims are brought in vicarious liability, which is a no-fault liability. This assigns a liability for a wrongful act to a person/organisation who did not commit the wrongful act but who has a particular legal relationship with the person who did commit the act.

This can be split into two stages:

Stage one: Is there an employment relationship or a position ‘akin to employment’?

Stage two: Did the wrongful act occur in the course of, or closely connected to the employment/duties of the employment?


Despite there being significant case law already established in this area, it is possible this could give rise to an increase in civil claims against organisations to try to establish that behaviour outside the normal duties and responsibilities entrusted to the individual as part of their employment is closely connected to their employment on the basis that the organisation has set out the standards they expect from their employees, even in private life.

Lauranne Nolan

Lauranne Nolan


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