Being a Council member
Claire Johnston: Registrant member
If you're thinking of applying to be a lay or registrant member of the Nursing & Midwifery Council, but wondering 'could I do that?', my advice to you is not to hesitate. My five years on Council have been hugely rewarding. As a senior career nurse registrant member, I have been privileged to contribute to the creation and delivery of an imaginative, far-sighted strategy for over 808,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates we regulate, with public safety at its core.
There are a dozen of us on Council, registrant and lay, who enjoy working together and with our hugely talented executive team, in an atmosphere which, while collegiate and respectful of diversity and difference, is also extremely stimulating - with plenty of genuine debate and critical discourse. We are making a real contribution in response to the current spotlight on health and care, be that working with the government on its plans for reform of health regulators or shaping and responding to the unprecedented policy, political and public attention on nursing and midwifery. The NMC is a significant force for heralding and driving change, but our paramount focus of ensuring public safety is constant, coupled with our ambition to modernise and strengthen standards of proficient practice for our regulated professions.
There has never been a more interesting time to play a part as a member of the Council in ensuring that nurses and midwives are always able to give people safe and personalised effective care and that there can be confidence that care is meeting the same standards of quality nationwide. Our top priority currently is improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our fitness to practise casework practice. All we do is fully informed by being a four-country regulator, with the health policies and professional priorities of each of our devolved countries a constant theme.
We use our voice to speak up about what the public can expect from our regulated professionals and we are committed to becoming a more inclusive and diverse organisation, working closely with stakeholders across a wide spectrum. We strive to be a collaborative, contemporary, compassionate regulator. Over the last few years we have radically overhauled all our standards for pre- and post-registration education for nurses and midwives and we are now starting to prepare for the possible regulation of advanced nursing practice, bringing to our society more nurses and midwives able to operate at the highest level clinically. We also oversee the quality of pre- and post-registration education programmes in 90 universities, ensuring that when students join our register they have the right knowledge, attitude and skills to provide quality care in their field of practice.
We take seriously our role as a regulator influencing the environment in which registrants operate – be that supporting them to challenge inequity of health and care, tackling racism and discrimination, or speaking up about concerns such as workforce issues that impact on patient care and population health.
If this blog speaks to your values as a nurse, midwife or nursing associate – then do please apply. You will not regret it.
Derek Pretty: Lay member
My working life before becoming a lay member of the NMC embraced senior roles in finance, higher education and retailing, followed by a few years in non-executive director and charity trustee/ governor roles. A colleague drew the position on the Council to my attention and it seemed a great opportunity to use my prior experience and skills to help make a difference in this field of major public importance.
So how has it been? First, it has been a massive but enjoyable learning experience. There has been so much new to absorb and understand about the roles and work context of nurses and midwives. This has meant reading and hearing about, discussing and approving proposals ranging from new standards for nursing and midwifery care, to quality assurance of nursing education and a major overhaul of fitness to practise. At the same time I have had the chance, alongside fellow Council members, to support and challenge the executive team about new information and communication systems and critical process and behavioural changes to make the NMC more efficient, more open and kinder. I have also been able to use my financial experience to help introduce new investment policies to make better use of the NMC's cash holdings.
One of the great things about working at the NMC has been the collegiate and supportive team, both non-executive and executive. Everyone recognises and acknowledges the diverse array of skills and experience each of us brings to the table and we feel valued.
NMC, like most organisations, has not always got things right, but it is pulling out the stops to be professional, efficient and effective and, above all, people focussed and kind. It is a very good place to help make a difference.
Lynne Wigens: Registrant member
I joined the NMC Council as a registrant in October 2020. My background was as a Chief Nurse in both provider and commissioning organisations and most recently as a regional chief nurse for the East of England.
The regulation of nurses and midwives during the pandemic has been insightful and has stressed the importance and value of professional regulators supporting current practice for the good of all. Most of our meetings during this time period were virtual, and it has been great to meet regularly in person and visit Northern Ireland, South West England and Wales over the past 18 months. I have got to know Council colleagues and the executive team well and have felt amazingly supported by all, including the governance team. The induction to the organisation was fantastic, and having regular meetings with the Chair allows for individual as well as full Council debate to occur.
I have had the opportunity to be engaged in sub-committee working including the Remuneration Committee and to attend workshops. This is a really interesting time for nursing and midwifery and what better way to support the transformation of professional regulation and your profession. Come and join us, you will not be disappointed.
Eileen McEneaney: Registrant member
I joined the NMC Council as the registrant member for Northern Ireland in October 2020. In my view it is critical that “our” regulator has registrant Council members, alongside the essential skills and knowledge of other Council members who bring the necessary diverse range of skills to ensure that the NMC is a values based, progressive and competent organisation and regulator. This is important for the reputation of our professions and also for the safety of the public.
As registrants, we are focused on safe, effective, person centred and compassionate care and treatment for women, our patients and service users and their families. The Council actively works to the NMC values of fair, kind, collaborative and ambitious, which I believe are strongly aligned to ‘The Code.’ The nursing and midwifery family is a broad, diverse, disparate and yet distinct group across the four UK nations. We want to reflect the society that we serve. Council is focused on the essential aspects of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within our business, our discussions and also within our membership.
The Council works in a truly collaborative style; there are open discussions, which are both supportive and challenging. Our Chair of Council is inclusive and provides strong leadership to the organisation on the strategic priorities for the NMC. My induction period for Council was comprehensive, which gave me confidence for when my period on Council officially commenced. Additionally, there is a formal “buddy” system for all new Council members, this is invaluable and helped me navigate the first few months as Council member.
I encourage you to consider this role; if this is not for you at this time, please consider colleagues whom you could recommend this role to.