UK nursing regulator’s chief to step down due to ill health amid review into whistleblower concerns

Nursing and Midwifery Council faces results of a review into its culture prompted by The Independent

Rebecca Thomas
Health Correspondent
Wednesday 22 May 2024 14:46 BST
Andrea Sutcliffe called for legislation reform to maintain the public confidence
Andrea Sutcliffe called for legislation reform to maintain the public confidence (NMC)

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The boss of the UK’s nursing regulator is due to step down due to ill health, as a report on the organisation’s culture is due to be published.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which regulates all nurses, midwives and nursing associates in the UK, has announced she will be stepping down at the end of June.

The NMC said Ms Sutcliffe is due to have neurosurgery for a benign tumour, which was discovered during a scan, and is stepping down due to the length of the recover after surgery.

Her departure comes after a series of exposés forced the NMC to commission multiple independent reviews into its culture, as well as whistleblower concerns over the way it handles cases against nurses.

As reported by The Independent, a secret report alleged that the NMC has a “culture of fear” among staff, making them scared to raise concerns.

The first of the reviews into the NMC’s culture more broadly is set to be published next month after being carried out by Nazir Afzal OBE and Rise Associates, who also led the culture review into London Fire Brigade.

Several sources in the organisation have said they expect the Rise Associates review to be “damming”.

Barrister Ijeoma Omambala KC is carrying out a review in two parts, looking into the specific concerns and cases raised by the whistleblower.

Nazir Afzal, is leading the review into the NMC’s cultuer
Nazir Afzal, is leading the review into the NMC’s cultuer (Press Association)

Ms Sutcliffe said in a statement published on Wednesday: “It’s been a great privilege to lead the NMC for the last five years. I’ve been constantly inspired by the amazing work that the nurses, midwives and nursing associates on our register do for people and communities.

“Stepping down has been a difficult decision for me but it may be some time before I’m well enough to fully meet the demands of this job.

“I’m particularly disappointed that I won’t be here to lead the organisational response to the independent reviews which we have commissioned of our culture and regulatory processes. Whatever the findings and recommendations may be, I’m confident that the NMC and its people will deliver positive change.”

The regulator said it will appoint and interim chief executive until it finds a replacement.

Sir David Warren, chair of the NMC’s Council, said: “On behalf of the council, I want to pay tribute to Andrea for her leadership of the NMC over the past five years. She has brought immense energy and empathy to her role and an unwavering commitment to maintaining public confidence in the nursing and midwifery professions, coupled with a formidable work ethic.”

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