In the wake of recent high profile examples of patients, particularly older people and those with learning disabilities, being neglected, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the General Medical Council (GMC) have issued a joint statement reinforcing their joint values.

The statement, whilst stressing that the majority of healthcare staff work to the highest standards to deliver safe high-quality care for patients, acknowledges that in a small minority of cases, patients encounter problems. This, they state, demonstrates the need for a constant commitment to quality and patient safety from all health professionals, combined with a willingness to uphold high standards and to raise concerns and challenge those responsible for poor practice.

The statement goes on to say that delivering high quality, safe patient care does not rely solely on the clinical skill of those who are treating and caring for patients but involves teamwork, communication and leadership. It requires a culture where health professionals can discuss patient safety and experience issues openly with peers, senior clinicians, nurses and midwives, healthcare managers, and with patients themselves.

Moreover, it states, health professionals need to demonstrate compassion and kindness, as well as knowledge and skills. They have a duty to put patients first at all times and to raise concerns as soon as they believe patients are at risk.

Further details of the shared professional values of nurses and doctors can be found in the NMC’s code “Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives” and in the GMC’s Duties of a Doctor which can be found on the NMC’s and GMC’s respective web sites.