Rights of the nurse and midwife

Brief extract of book by Paul Golden

‘We only have the rights we stand up for’

Midwives the same Human Rights as every human being plus additional rights and responsibilities.  Their professional registration regulated their code of conduct and imposes a special duty of care.

When a nurse or midwife is challenged they have the right to

Take Time and take advice.

Right to a fair process

(This includes knowing what the allegations and who the accusers are).

Invite the investigators to give an agenda including

  • what areas of concern and
  • what questions they will like answers to.

Nurses’ & Midwives’ Rights include

  1. Human Rights (see brief notes below) 
  1. Civil Law Rights (Contract, Torts, Employment, Health and Safety Laws) 
  1. Employment Law Rights e.g. unfair dismissal, breaches in legislation i.e. failure to ensure safe work place by allowing bullying etc.
  1. Criminal Law actions related to Midwives Rights e.g. perjury where falsified statements are relied upon in any judicial setting including the Regulatory Authority hearings (NCM)
  1. Witness (& Expert Witness Statements)

o   Collect Evidence to show how your practice is safe.  This includes statements from colleagues, clients and other professionals such as academics.

  1. Professional Supervision – engage in this to demonstrate you reflect in and on your practice, to show how you are safe and take opportunity to improve your practice through reflection.  This can be meeting with a professional supervisor (some offer this via Skype) to discuss practice issues and professional development.  It is supervisee led and centred.

1 Human Rights

These include the United Nations Convention on Human Rights.  These have been adapted into local laws in the UK with the Human Rights Act 1998.

Article 3

The Right not to suffer degrading and unusual punishment or torture,

(e.g. excessive and unreasonable delays that cause unbearable stress, public and or, professional humiliation etc.)  The claimant must show they suffered significant harm.  Simply raising this as a possible claim can remind the investigating body and their bosses (usually the NMC the Ombudsman – PHSO et al) that they may be accountable in court and the impact of their conduct must be respectful and humane.

Article 8

The Right to Family and Private Life

This right must not be interfered with unnecessarily by a state body eg) the NMC.

This is the widest and most useful along with Article 6.

Article 6

The Right to Fair Trial / fair process with investigations

(e.g. to know what the allegations are and who the accusers are).

Investigations need to be:

Proportionate and flexible

If there is some training needs identified they should be proportionate and relevant to the findings and not go outside of this.

Timely – cases need to be heard in a timely manner, and if they are protracted with cancellations and other unreasonable behavior then a challenge must be made to the organisation and can be made in the civil courts.  Where the delays are causing financial loss this will be easier to show to the courts rather than emotional harm.  The loss needs to be measureable and directly caused by the acts or omission (unreasonable delays).

There is a presumption of innocence.  If the investigators appear to word things as if the registrant is guilty that is a sign they have pre judged the case which may be biased and cause further disadvantage.

There must be an opportunity to defend allegations.  Calmly assert your rights and you will get positive response.  If you need to take a civil action you may do this as a self-litigant to save on legal fees.  It can be simpler and easier and more rewarding than not taking action.  Be proactive.  Stand up for your rights.  It is all about creating opportunities to take the initiative.

Take your time to respond and take professional third party advice.

Contact me for more individual information and advice.



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