Letter: Nurses do want to be accountable

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The Independent Online
YOUR article 'Guilty nurses go unpunished' (20 June) illustrates the danger of drawing the wrong assumptions from statistics.

Linking the number of complaints with 'punishment' fails to take account of the mitigating circumstances which may render removal of nurses, midwives and health visitors from the register inappropriate and unjust.

These include stress, ill-health and inadequate support and management of resources. In fact, the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting only became responsible for investigating complaints from 1 April 1993. Before then, UKCC had no choice but removal from the register or dismissal of the case. Systems can always be improved but it is premature to call for review of a system which has yet to be tested.

UKCC has pressed for reform of legislation and has publicly acknowledged the deficiencies of its own systems which it was legally obliged to follow until April this year. It has also pressed for an increase in consumer representation in its membership. Improvements have been made: the law has been amended; new procedures are in place and the option for including individuals who are not members of the council is available.

We are in no doubt about our accountability or its over-riding responsibility to continue to serve public interest, and will continue to deal severely with cases when misconduct is proven and when such action is justified and appropriate.

Colin Ralph


London W1