Regulatory Context


Professional Regulation during COVID-19

Under usual conditions, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)  Code expects that registrants support others in emergency situations within the bounds of their individual competence. The NMC recognises however, that there will be ethical and professional challenges presented by temporary changes to practice and the likely pressures presented by staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities.

The redeployment of nursing and midwifery staff may cause individuals to be concerned about practicalities of working outside familiar settings, the safety of practice and therefore professional implications.

Staff asked to support the provision of patient care as part of a multi-disciplinary team, will do so though bringing personal skill sets within the limits of their individual competence.  In these circumstances, nurses and midwives are key members of the multi-disciplinary team and as professions have the skills to lead and take accountability for delivering the best outcome possible for people and the population as a whole, in unique and highly challenging environments.

The NMC recognises that nurses and midwives will feel anxious about the likelihood of concerns being raised about the decisions they make, and the actions they take in these very challenging circumstances. If a concern is raised about a registered nurse or midwife they will always consider the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the nurse or midwife was working. They would also take account of any relevant information about resources, guidelines or protocols in place at the time, and how these factors influenced their professional judgement.

For additional information specific to particular care settings e.g. Private Nursing Homes, please see below.

  • Additional Information

    For staff working in nursing homes, ‘regulation’ often is talked about in terms of the regulatory oversight that the Regulation and Quality Improvement Agency (RQIA) has around service delivery standards, as well as professional regulation.

    During this period, RQIA have committed to work with independent providers  to:

    ‘support them to make risk-assessed and evidence-based decisions using their professional judgement and knowledge and understanding of the people they provide services to.  This will include RQIA working with providers to come to solutions to issues that may be out with the letter of standards or regulations but which provide safe, pragmatic remedies to issues that could never have been planned for on this scale’

    Point 93 Department of Health (2020). COVID-19: Guidance for Nursing and Residential Care Homes in Northern Ireland

The following links provide fuller information and guidance:

NMC – The Code
NMC – How will we regulate
NMC – Joint statement on expanding the Nursing Workforce
NMC – Joint Statement on Expanding the Midwifery Workforce in the COVID-19 Outbreak
Joint Statement on Developing Immediate Critical Care Nursing Capacity
Accountability Delegation Indemnity
RCM – COVID-19 Advice
RCN – COVID-19  Advice
RCN – Guidance on Redeployment – COVID 19