Open Letter to Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive of NMC

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Dear Andrea Sutcliffe,

I am writing to you so that you are aware of my experiences of the Nursing & Midwifery Council in the way it carries our fitness to practise referrals as well as dealing with concerns and complaints. I have not had a reply to my email sent to CEO in NMC, so therefore am now formulating this open letter as of 22nd March 2021.  This is draft copy, it will be edited soon.

My first fitness to practise referral to the NMC resulted in different excuses being provided as to why it could not investigate. An example of these excuses is that it would be better for the nurses employer to investigate – I refuted this excuse by stating the nurses employer is reported in the media for its lies. Another example of an excuse to not investigate was that there was no credible evidence that existed – I refuted this excuse by stating that credible evidence indeed does exist in addition to the fact that my own medical health team has seen this evidence and said the nurse is unfit for purpose in her role. However refuting your excuse led you to take zero action.
It must be noted that in relation to these elements, I raised a complaint to which as yet remains unanswered. Your complaints department are consistent in not answering concerns and complaints.

I then made another fitness to practise referral to yourselves and chased this up on a multitude of occasions during the last two years and indeed to present date. Earlier, I was told that no consent had been received from myself in order for you to pursue the referral.
I stated many times that consent had been given and offered to send in again. Indeed, in August 2020 I sent consent again via email, the NMC actually replied to this email, however afterwards it was said that consent had not been received. Do you see a recurring theme here? Consent provided to NMC for them to investigate, yet NMC ignores said consent to investigate.
It must be noted that in relation to the elements of NMC receiving consent and replying to the email which provided consent for NMC to state months afterwards it had not received consent has been raised as a complaint on a multitude of occasions, however it remains unanswered. Again, your complaints department are consistent in not answering concerns and complaints.

After chasing up a fitness to practise referral for approximately 2 years, despite me mentioning the nurses name upon chasing this up the conclusion provided by NMC was that it had been investigating at cross purposes and was in the process of investigating my first referral and not the referral I had been chasing up.
In relation to this mix up, I raised the point that NMC should have checked to see if the nurse they were investigating was actually still registered with the NMC. I could have told you myself that the nurse quit her reqistration a year or so before your conclusion.
It must be noted that in relation to my complaint of NMC essentially wasting approximately two years in investigating the wrong nurse has been raised as a complaint on a multitude of occasions, however it remains unanswered. Again, your complaints department are consistent in not answering concerns and complaints.

In light of the fact that NMC had essentially wasted approximately two years investigating the wrong nurse, I made a Subject Access Request / SAR for all data. This is so I could try and ascertain how this error arose. Despite making the SAR on numerous occasions I was ignored.  Despite complaining that I had not received the SAR to your complaints department, again, I was ignored. Your complaints department then claimed I had received the SAR and provided me with a date that I had received it.  Infact, your complaints department in one of their responses provided me with four different dates, each of these dates were completely wrong.
I then proceeded chasing up the SAR further in addition to trying to raise further complaints about not receiving it.  The response from your complaints department stated that the reason NMC did not send me my SAR was because the NMC were actually waiting for me to send in an N1 court claim form in order to request a Judge make an order for you to comply with your legal obligations and send me the SAR.  This response is absolutely ridiculous.
I complained again in relation to not receiving the SAR and your preposterous responses provided, the incorrect dates provided, the NMC stating that the SAR had been provided to me which was false. NMC then stating it was waiting for me to start legal action to get the SAR and that is why it had not been provided.  I was told by one manager from NMC (which I put in writing) that she would pull the phone records of the amount of times I made a request for SAR in addition to written email requests and it would be treated as a complaint. However, needless to say, this remains unanswered.
It must be noted that in relation to the above concerns and complaints surrounding my SAR, it has not been answered apart from ridiculous responses such as NMC were waiting for me to take legal action / waiting for court form for my SAR.

Now turning to the most recent concern with my referral.  I have sent yourselves irrefutable evidence from the nurses employer showing inaccuracies between that of the oral recording and written report. You have evidence of a multitude of inaccuracies, one being a downright lie.  In the oral recording of assessment in which the nurses employers transcribed and you have a copy, it can be clearly seen I discussed what medications I was currently taking via an in-depth discussion. However, the nurse clearly lied and wrote that I am not taking any medication whatsoever.  This is irrefutable evidence which you currently have.  In your findings so far, you do not recognise this and write that I was taking medication and changing.  (need to expand on this point further  –  draft open letter)

In regards to the complaints and concerns that have not been answered, you may check yourself to see that various time limits provided by the NMC to answer were incorrect. I have had to chase these up. Even when you can be bothered to answer, your replies do not address my concerns and complaints and just exacerbate them. To this end I wrote your complaints department a concise list of my complaints along with annotations.  Again, consistency has been shown and the NMC has so far decided to ignore this.  A copy of this is provided below:

Copy of complaint letter sent previously, no answers provided, only a minimal response from Ben Weeson who has ignored my comlaints and concerns yet again.

Hello,

As you have consistently either ignored my concerns or complaints, or at best answered them with an inadequate response or you responded but with error, I have made a summary of the complaints and concerns here. In order to aid yourselves, each summary of point which needs answering is in red text below. 

February 3rd, 2021 I sent yourselves 2 emails detailing my dissatisfaction at a multitude of complaints and concerns which had not been addressed by yourselves or had been addressed inaquaretely.. (These are mainly why it took yourselves 2 years of timewasting investigating the wrong nurse despite my constant phone calls to chase this up, concerns into safeguarding and other elements of complaints / concerns).

I also reminded yourselves that previous complaint sent in December 2020 had been ignored / not responded to despite me chasing this up and being told an acknowledgement and response would be sent to me (I received neither)
I also notified you that my own mental health team had advised me to not pursue any DWP complaints (and by extension this involved my NMC referral). Due to a clear history of NMC failing to address my concerns and complaints (either ignoring them, or at best answering them with each answer just exacerbating the complaints, details in points below), I therefore requested NMC to inform me of what complaints and concerns they intend to respond to in March and to do so by making a reasonable adjustment as defined under the Equality Act, this obviously in relation to my medical health team advice to not pursue or spend a lot of time in pursuing DWP complaints (and by extension, yourselves).
You failed to reply to my emails dated February 3rd 2021, outlined above.
As you had failed to respond to my communications, I therefore sent you email on February 11th 2021 informing you that I have started to make this list myself – the list being concerns and complaints you should have ideally answered during the last few months in addition to historical complaints.

1.      In relation to the above, I would appreciate a response as to whether NMC believed a reasonable adjustment should be made (based upon my medical health teams advice in addition to my experience of NMC clearly failing to respond to complaints previously). If a reasonable adjustment should have been made, then why has NMC ignored this? If a reasonable adjustment should not have been made in respect of my request, then I would appreciate any reasoning given by NMC in regards to why no reasonable adjustment would be made.

 

 

December 16th 2020, Ben Wesson Head of customer enquiries and complaints responded to my concerns and complaints but failed to actually address any of my concerns and complaints. On December 17th 2020, I responded to yourselves via email, an excerpt of this email is as follows:

Despite waiting from August 2020 until present date, you have failed to answer:

 

1.      Why it has taken NMC approximately 2 years to investigate nothing, as had been investigating wrong nurse

2.      Why you have ignored my previous consent forms sent to yourselves last year and again in August 2020 via email.  You evade this element by stating that I had sent consent during October 2020, yet ignore my complaint that you had ignored consent sent in August 2020 and in March 2019.  

3.      Why I have had to spend a multitude of times in contact with your data department to request data to ascertain the delays above, in addition to your response as to why you told me you were waiting for an N1 court claim form in order to process my data request.

4.      Issues of safeguarding have been ignored for the last few years – details of this concern provided to you a multiple of times.

5.      Why you have claimed previously no credible evidence exists, despite such credible evidence existing by way of audio recording in addition to my own medical health team stating nurse is unfit for purpose as well as an independent medical doctor who has stated the same.

6.      Why in your previous complaint response to me you listed 4 dates, each date to be incorrect and causing me to believe there had been a data breach of unauthorised disclosure of my data.

7.      Why I had to endure a protracted amount of time to ascertain further information in regards to said data breach.

There are other elements of my complaint and concerns that remain unanswered, the above just lists some of them.

 

Given the fact that Ben Wesson and other complaints managers / colleagues were supposed to be answering my concerns and complaints that had repeatedly not been answered – or answered but the response just exacerbated my complaints (such ridiculous responses as the reason you did not send me my DSAR was because you were waiting for me to start court action for this, or responses which lists 4 dates each date being incorrect etc etc), clearly the reply from Ben Wesson did not answer my concerns and complaints whatsoever. I find this disingenous.

 

2.      The reply from Ben Wesson (Head of Customer Enquiries and Complaints) should have ideally answered my concerns and complaints, however it is clear that the he did not. Due to my previous concerns being inadequately responded to, I was informed that Ben Weeson would be responding. Why were my concerns and complaints ignored yet again when Ben Wesson was supposed to have been answering previous ignored concerns and inadequately addressed concerns?,Given the fact that I had reiterated your previous responses to be either incorrect / or providing incorrect information / or inadequate responses / or ignoring and not answering and being told that they would be addressed, why then did this response fail to actually address anything?

3.      In addition to the NMC ignoring concerns and complaints up until and including the reply from Ben Wesson, I responded the following day with my dissatisfaction listing some (but not all) of my concerns and complaints which had been ignored yet again. This response was sent to you on December 17th 2020. I chased this complaint up after I had sent it in order to speak with someone who could understand that my concerns and complaints had been constantly ignored and was told an acknowledgement and response would be sent soon. NMC failed to send me both the acknowledgement and response. Why did NMC blatantly ignore this complaint yet again?

4.      In the above email, I also copied the Professional Standards, the governing body of the NMC in an effort to cajole NMC to act accordingly and in addition for Professional Standards to make a note of my continued experience of the NMC deliberately and systemically placing barriers in front of vulnerable people in an effort to dissuade them from pursuing complaints or referrals. In addition to notifying the PSA, I also notified the NMC CEO Office via email of my experience and continued dissatisfaction at your courses of actions. Despite notifying CEO Office, (in addition to previous notifications) it can be seen the CEO Office also ignore complaints / concerns and feedback. Why is this?

 

 

 

On November 13th 2020, I wrote to you the following:

Despite reiterating my complaints and concerns via email and phone calls as you have stated above, they have all been ignored yet again. For example, in conversation with Jennifer Hay, I was told that my complaint of making 26 or 27 phone calls to the FOI team in order to chase up the request would be pulled from the system and looked into. This, along with other concerns and complaints has not been regarded within your response. 

 

5. Despite being told that by complaints manager that my 26 or 27 phone calls in chasing up DSAR would be pulled from the system and looked into, this was not actioned. Why is this?

6.      Leading on from the above, why did your complaint response state that the reason you did not process my DSAR is that you were waiting for an N1 court claim form in order for you to process the DSAR? This clearly shows zero due dilligence. To not process a DSAR request despite a multitude of reminders and then claim the reasons you did not process it is that you were waiting for a court application is derisory at best. Is this the normal course of action NMC follows, to ignore GDPR legislation, ignore multitude of reminders and simply wait for a court order in order to discharge legal obligations? If not, then why was this action shown to myself and why did your complaints response give this reason?

7.      Clearly, this element of my complaint (failed DSAR) has been consistently ignored from August 2020 until present date (and am still waiting response to this complaint) despite the fact that I have repeatedly chased this element of my complaint on a multitude of occasions – each reply from NMC ignoring it or providing preposterous reasons as outlined above. Is there any reason why the NMC have consistently ignored to respond to my complaint despite my endeavors to obtain a response?

 

Again, in November 13th you write the following: You mentioned that there was a delay in us progressing the case involving Nurse Parry. In our last letter, we said that we had asked you to provide consent for us to disclose details of your referral of Nurse Parry in order to continue our investigation. We are grateful that you provided this to us on 30 October 2020. 

 

The above response is in relation to my concern that you had previously ignored the two consent notifications I sent to yourselves in order for you to continue with the fitness to practise referral. I replied back stating that consent had been sent twice previously to which you have ignored, plus the fact that you had received at least one of the consent notifications as you directly replied to the email in which it was sent. Clearly, sending you consent to carry out the referral had been ignored.

8. Despite me stating to yourselves during phone conversations that I had already sent my consent on two different occasions in addition to listing this as part of my converns with the NMC, you have failed again to address this. Why have the NMC ignored the fact that I had previously provided consent? Also, why has this area of my complaint also been ignored a few times despite me reminding yourselves it has not been answered?

9.      I notified the NMC of my current difficulties in sending you the consent form due to Covid-19 and isolating. It took a protracted amount of time for the NMC to inform me that I could send the consent via email. You can check yourselves previous communications via email / phone, this amount of time was in my opinion unacceptable. Why did this happen?

10.  Leading on from the above, when the NMC informed me late last year that I can send my consent via email, I reminded that this had already been done months ago, yet this was still ignored and I had to send again. Clearly, this element in addition to the multitude of other elements highlighted is placing barriers in front of vulnerable people in an effort to dissuade them into pursuing a fitness to practise referral. This is my opinion, unless NMC can respond to this to explain why previous consent notifications had been ignored?

11.  It is my opinion that whilst NMC require consent in order to investigate a referral, there remains the issue of safeguarding. NMC has evidence of a nurse who has falsified medical information in addition to blatantly lying about medical information, NMC should have proceeded with the referral regardless as to whether consent was given or not. Please explain how and why the NMC requires consent in this instance and how safeguarding policies are discharged due to consent being required. The allegations and evidence clearly show the nurse falsidied medical information in addition to blatantly lying, therefore it is my opinion that NMC should have investigated even without consent to disclose.

23.  A flurry of emails from NMC in 2020 detailing delays in investigating the fitness to practise referral, I contacted via phone in response to the emails to ensure that you would listen to the evidence (unlike your previous time), and mentioned the nurses name upon each contact. Why did none of my telephone conversations result in the NMC realise it was investigating the wrong nurse, for example, I mentioned Bethan Hughes, not Erica Bulpin, yet this was ignored on several occasions until mentioning to your colleage “Ade” who quickly recognised that there was a cross purpose investigation. Why did previous colleagues not recognise that the investigation was at cross purposes?

24. Leading on from above, the result of your investigation into this fitness to practise referral (despite it being at cross purpose) was that you could not investigate due to the nurse not being registered with yourselves anymore. Why did you waste months in delaying this investigation and informing me of delays, accepting my telephone calls for you to conclude that you can’t investigate as the nurse is no lnoger registered with yourselves?
With all respect, it takes literally less than a minute to search your own database to see whether a nurse is registered with yourselves. Indeed, I did this myself and I could have confiemed with yourselves much earlier that said nurse was no longer registered, yet, you declde to waste time in sending me notifications of delays to investigation.
Here is a tip for you, it would be prudent of the NMC to actually when conducting a fitness to practise referral that in the run up to the referral NMC colleagues ascertain whether the nurse is on the register or not. Why did you not do this?

 

In conclusion, it is obvious that I believe the NMC is unfit for purpose and follows a course of action by placing barriers in front of vulnerable people in an effort to dissuade them from pursuing fitness to practise referrals, concerns and complaints.
This is clearly evident from a few years ago to present date. The actions shown are consistent despite intervention from your governing body, PSA.

The crux of my concern is that you have for approximately 2 years known of my allegation and my chasing up of a referral in regards to nurse BP. You now have evidence by way of a transcript (made by DWP) of the assessment and you should compare this transcript to the medical report which was derived from the assessment by your nurse.

When you have done this, you will be able to see that the nurse omitted various medical information. You can see the letter from DWP which lists some (but not all) of the medical information that the nurse omitted. I have also provided you with further examples of the evidences which DWP did not list as to omitting medical information. Additionally, I have provided you with an example of where the nurse has purposefully blatantly lied, this lie being in the medical report she writes that I do not take any medication, however contrasted to the transcription of the assessment it can be seen that this is incorrect and I discussed what medication I was taking.

25. The crux of the matter is that it is my opinion (and indeed the opinion of medical professionals) that this nurse is unfit for purpose. Given the fact that I have already wasted approximately 2 years in order for you to investigate and you responding stating that the investigation was at cross purposes and you are now only starting to investigate, how much longer do I need wait for you to conclude your investigation? You now have literal evidence that not only the nurse made a multitude of inaccuracies, but also the fact that the nurse purposefully and blatantly lied in her medical report. There is an issue of safeguarding here – how much longer before you investigate or if not investigate fob me off with other excuses as to why you can not investigate?

 

Kind regards

The above communications show that I have listed my concerns and complaints in bullet point format and numbered. This was so the NMC can easily see my concerns and complaints and not ignore them as they have been doing so.
The response to the open letter from Andrea Sutcliffe is provided below. I would have thought that a CEO / in the knowledge that their incompetence was being blogged about would have actually addressed my concerns and complaints, however as you can see from the reply the concerns and complaints have been ignored.

14 May 2021

Dear <redacted>

Thank you for your email dated 26 March 2021, which included a link to a draft of your
letter addressed to me. This was in response to the response from my colleague,
Ben Wesson, Head of Customer Enquiries and Complaints, dated 16 March 2021. I am
sorry that you have outstanding concerns after receiving Ben’s letter. I can see that,
prior to 16 March 2021, the team had responded to you on three previous occasions.
We know that going through our Fitness to Practise process can be an emotionally
stressful time for people, and I was sorry to read that your mental health has suffered as
a result of your case. I would like to re-iterate that you can contact the independent
care line for support at any time. Please find more information about this here:

https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/more-us/why-choose-us/specialist-services/gmc-and-
nmc-independent-support

You mentioned that I had not written back to you directly in response to your emails that
were addressed to me. I appreciate why this may have been frustrating for you, but
given the detailed nature of the concerns that you raised, our team dedicated to
responding to complaints about our service was very well placed to address the
concerns you raised through our formal complaints process. I am sorry that you are
unhappy with the responses you have received to date, but I hope you understand why
Ben’s team responded to your previous complaints.
I understand that it took us longer than we had hoped to respond to your email dated
17 December 2020, and that Ben explained the reasons for the delay in his letter dated
16 March 2021. I would like to re-iterate our apology for this, and I can assure you that
we did not ignore your concerns, or intend to give you the impression that we were.

You mentioned that you made a number of phone calls to us in the middle of 2020, to
chase us for a response to your Subject Access Request. Our records show that,
during a conversation with my colleague, Nerisse Williams, on 13 August 2020, you
asked whether our decision in your fitness to practise case would be delayed if you
made a Subject Access Request. I note that you had requested to make your request
by post, and that we advised that you may receive a response more quickly if you were
to contact the Customer Information and Data Requests Team by email.
I am sorry that we did not put you in direct contact with the Customer Information and
Data Requests Team in August 2020. If we had done this, we would have been able to
co-ordinate a response to your request much sooner than we did, and I am sorry to
learn that this has compounded the negative impression of our handling of your
concerns. To address this in future, I have asked Ade Obaye, our Head of Quality of
Decision Making, to remind her team of the importance of logging requests with our
Customer Information and Data Requests Team at the earliest possible opportunity.
I note your comments about the N1 claim form, and the way that this affected our
handling of your information request. I can see that, on 14 September 2020, you had a
conversation with Ade, in which she apologised that we had not put you in contact with
our Customer Information and Data Requests Team in August 2020. Our records show
that you suggested you would be taking legal action, as you had not been able to
contact our Customer Information and Data Requests Team. You also mentioned to
Ade that you would make an information request directly, and that Ade did not need to
make a request on your behalf.
I can see that our Customer Information and Data Requests Team has since been in
contact with you in response to your requests, most recently on 4 December 2020.
Please refer to our letter dated 13 November 2020, which included our responses to
your previous requests. If you would like to make additional requests for your personal
data, you can complete the online request form, and see our full contact details here:
https://www.nmc.org.uk/contact-us/data-protection/foi-request/
You raised a concern about our request for your consent to investigate the concerns
about Nurse Parry, which we received on 30 October 2020. You mentioned that you
had sent a consent form previously, which we ignored. I understand that we do not
have a record of this request, but the team would be very happy to look into this further.
If you are able to confirm who you sent the request to and when, the team will gladly
look into this for you.
I note that you said that we should have continued with our investigation, even if you
had not provided us with the consent form. I can appreciate why you were frustrated by
this request. However, obtaining consent to share the details of allegations raised with
us is an important part of our process. This ensures fairness, and allows the parties
involved to provide an accurate response to the allegations. While we can consider
concerns that are raised anonymously, this does make it harder for us to consider a
referral, and may mean we cannot take any action. I can see that we addressed this
point in our earlier letter dated 13 October 2020.

I note that you mentioned that we had investigated the wrong nurse. When my
colleague, James Jafari, Lead Investigator, called you on 23 April 2021, you said that
we had been making enquiries into Nurse Bulpin’s practise, when we should have been
investigating Nurse Parry.
I can see that you notified us of your concerns about Nurse Bulpin and Nurse Parry, and
we considered both of them under our Fitness to Practise process. In the case of
Nurse Bulpin, we are unable to investigate the matter further, because she is no longer
on our register. However, if she seeks to re-join the Register, she would be under
investigation. The investigation into Nurse Parry’s case is ongoing. On 22 April 2021,
you replied to the email from Bola Sangosanya, Case Officer. Bola will consider your
email in full, and refer the case for a re-consideration decision as soon as possible.
Thank you again for getting in touch. I hope this letter addresses your concerns, but
please do contact me again if you have any follow-up queries.
Yours sincerely

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE
Chief Executive and Registrar

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