Nursing regulator asks BBC to hand over Panorama footage

By Caitlin Pike

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is requesting all filmed material
from Panorama’s “Undercover Nurse” for its investigation into poor
nursing practice revealed by the film.

The BBC described the investigation, broadcast on Wednesday last
week, as “a stark portrayal of the indignities faced by elderly people
as they reach the end of their days in a major British hospital”. The
corporation has not yet said if it will comply with the request. In the
past, the BBC has resisted calls to release material that has not been
broadcast.

The NMC, which regulates nursing standards, confirmed that incidents shown in the film would be investigated.

It
will examine the allegations made against nurses who had worked at the
Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton with nurse Margaret Haywood, who did
the undercover filming for Panorama.

Haywood, who hid cameras in her uniform, may also face investigation by the NMC.

A
spokesman for the NHS trust responsible for the Royal Sussex said it
planned to hold an investigation but could not comment because it had
received a legal letter from Panorama.

The trust claims improvements were made before the programme went out and that care is now of a high standard.

Haywood,
from Merseyside, told the Liverpool Echo that she feared her nursing
registration was at risk because of her involvement with Panorama.

She
said: “I made it clear to the BBC before I started that my professional
capacity as a nurse came first and filming was secondary. But I want to
improve things in the long term and I think I have been justified by
what the filming has revealed.”

A spokesman for the NMC said: “It
was explained to Mrs Haywood that at this early stage the NMC would
only be approaching Panorama with a request that the programme makers
submit all filmed material and any other evidence gathered for the
film. No decision will be taken on further action until all of the
evidence has been fully explored.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “There
was a clear public interest in revealing that some elderly people are
not receiving the level of care we expect from our National Health
Service. Panorama believes Margaret has done the elderly population a
great service.”

Guidelines

NMC STATEMENT

New guidelines on nurses and the media – covering documentaries and
reality television programmes – are to be issued by the NMC later this
year.

A spokesman said: “Broadcast media are increasingly using the
technique of undercover filming by professionals to ‘expose’ examples
of poor practice and care.

“This year has seen two such
programmes involving registered nurses filming covertly while on duty:
(Channel 4 Dispatches “Undercover Angels”, February, and BBC Panorama
“Undercover Nurse”, July).

“While the NMC fully supports
whistleblowers, registrants who choose to participate in such
programmes may potentially compromise their professional reputation
which could call their registration into question.”

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