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Calling on our NMC code of Professional Conduct

Codes have had a significant part to play in our history. Every war has been won, or significantly helped, with the transmission of code.

Armies used codes and ciphers to send secret messages back and forth, for example the infamous Choctaw code talkers who operated through the First World War. In the 15th century there was the extraordinary Codex filled with bizarre illustrations and most people have heard about the infamous Nazi coding machine which looked like a typewriter but, hidden inside, had the most complex cryptographic of rotors and gears yet devised.

The United Kingdom is now five months in to battling the COVID-19 crisis – a war on an invisible enemy. Many of our own have endured insufferable agony, in more ways than one. It is vital that Nurses and Midwives continue to share skills, knowledge and experience for the benefit of people receiving care, as well as their colleagues, throughout the crisis.

As we move towards the other side of the pandemic, the media, true to form, attempts to manipulate its readers and watchers to apportion blame (the polar opposite of our industry, as we continue to promote professionalism and trust). The press try to uncover deficiencies as they focus on even the smallest of mistakes, trying to bring shame on the few and to instil conflict and broken confidence in our leaders. Throughout this we must remember to always practice in line with best available evidence and try not to be affected at all by the circulating stories and the media’s never-ending criticism.

As Nurses, Midwifes and Nursing Associates we are NOT to be drawn into the split of political lefts and rights at a time when our resilience is being tested within an inch of its own limit. We need to support our colleagues working across all sectors, embrace each other’s story and help wherever we can.  At all times we must preserve safety, we must stand together in this war and always communicate clearly – the consequence of failing to do so could be catastrophic. We must continue to practice effectively as division, blame and conflict belong nowhere within in our profession. Negativity should at no point be transferred into our services at a local level, nor at a national level and health and social care should merge as one and stand strong, always offering help if an emergency arises in the immediate practice setting or anywhere else.

As a nurse I am incredibly proud of my fellow Registrants, they are heroes of our time and I hope every single one recovers from the trauma when all this is through. Yes, we must all act without delay when we believe that there is a risk to patient safety or public protection, but sometimes this is hard when tired and distracted. 

If your thoughts are being clouded by propaganda and fake news I understand, if you are losing your focus in these difficult times and are being swayed by political views that are unhelpful as we battle on the front line, then I also understand. If you are looking for something to guide you that’s informed and based on a factual evidence base in these chaotic, exhausting and difficult time – USE YOUR CODE.

Your code was given to you on the day that you entered into this profession. It is one that asks you to uphold your position as a Registered Nurse, Midwife or Nursing Associate. It encourages you to respect people’s right to privacy and confidentiality. It’s a code you committed to abide by, and it is one that will protect you as it permits you to know your limitations and to turn to each other with understanding and support.

The United Kingdom is now five months in to battling the COVID-19 crisis – a war on an invisible enemy.

Please remember your code: -

The Code

Professional standards of practice and behaviour for Nurses, Midwives and Nursing Associates. This code will assist us like codes have assisted in any other war in beating an enemy. 2020 has been designated by the World Health Organisation as the international year of Nursing and Midwifery. In Florence Nightingales honour, focus, continue and, where possible, join forces using the guidance of our code to remind us on how it can be done. Let’s continue to prioritise people and lets not have our heads turned by politics and the defiant press. 

Continue standing together with courage, skills and experience and work cooperatively more than we ever have needed to be before. Let’s uphold our standards together as Health and Social Care, ensuring that it’s in the best interest of people at all times. Use it wherever necessary to reinforce our professionalism and commitment to patient care. 

If you’ve not read your code for a while and you finished this article, you can consider this as revision! Woven through the words like a golden thread, our code has been encrypted within this piece, deciphered only by those of us ‘in the know’.

Our current situation may be very different from the World Wars which came before, but ‘cracking the code’ is just as vital to achieving victory in the battle against COVID-19.

Adam Gajic
Author: Adam Gajic