NMC backs down after UNISON’s legal challenge warning

UNISON today welcomed the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) statement backing
down from its previous threat to Nurses and Midwives, warning them against taking industrial action. UNISON had said that legal proceedings would be issued against the NMC in the High Court today, unless they retracted the threat.

The NMC has now issued a clarification, making it clear that nurses and midwives may take strike action and this would not be a breach of the Code of Conduct for nurses and midwives.

UNISON gave the NMC 24 hours to withdraw their statement made on 5 October, which suggested that nurses and midwives may be in breach of the NMC Codes of Conduct if they take lawful industrial action on 30 November 2011. UNISON made it clear to the NMC that not only were these statements threatening and intimidating, but they were also wrong – a nurse or midwife cannot be subject to disciplinary action for taking part in lawful industrial action.

Following an unsatisfactory response, UNISON informed the NMC that it would issue legal proceedings in the High Court.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

This is a significant climb down by the NMC and we are pleased they have accepted that the code of conduct in no way stops nurses and midwives from taking lawful industrial action. We will still be seeking answers from the NMC about what was behind this heavy handed and threatening statement.

As we have always said, nurses, midwives and health workers would never do anything to harm their patients, or to breach their Code of Conduct. As a responsible union, that is
not something we would ever consider asking our members to do.

Although UNISON is asking members to vote YES in the ballot, we want members to vote with their conscience and know that they are free to do so without fear or intimidation.

We will not allow anyone to bully our members and will defend their legitimate right to express their anger at Government Ministers attempt to rob their pensions.

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