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Professional Standards Authority publishes ‘Lessons Learned Review’ into the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s handling of concerns about midwives’ fitness to practise at the Furness General Hospital

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care has today published its Lessons Learned Review into handling by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of concerns about midwives’ fitness to practise at the Furness General Hospital (FGH). These concerns date back to 2004.

This Review, commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and supported by the NMC has concluded that, although the NMC's performance as a regulator is improving, it continues to make some mistakes and must develop a more respectful and open culture.

The Review recognises that the NMC has made many changes and improvements since 2014, but concludes that there are two significant areas requiring additional, urgent work: the NMC's approach to the value of evidence from and communication with patients; and its commitment in practice to transparency.

The Review makes a series of recommendations intended to aid the NMC and other regulators to improve their standards. These are focused on ways to improve engagement with patients and the public and to act in a transparent fashion.

Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority, Harry Cayton, said:

‘What happened at Furness General Hospital remains shocking, and the tragic deaths of babies and mothers should never have happened. The findings in the Review we are publishing today show that the response of the NMC was inadequate.

‘Although the NMC has made good progress with its technical handling of complaints and concerns, there remain cultural problems which it must remedy in order for the public to have confidence in its ability to protect them from harm.’


Notes to the Editor

You can download a copy of the report here. For media enquiries please call 020 7618 9118 or email

About the Review

This Review was commissioned by the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, following an investigation by Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, concluded in 2015, which found serious concerns about the clinical competence and integrity of the midwifery unit at Furness General Hospital between 2004 and 2014. The Authority was given the remit by the Secretary of State to examine the NMC’s approach to managing the complaints, its administration of the cases and its relationship management with witnesses, registrants and other key stakeholders. The Authority was asked to identify lessons which the NMC and other regulators could learn from the handling of these cases. The NMC has cooperated and supported the review.

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees nine statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
  2. We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
  3. The Standards of Good Regulation are designed to ensure that the regulators are protecting the public but also promoting confidence in health and care professionals and themselves. The Standards cover the regulators’ four core functions: setting and promoting guidance and standards for the profession; setting standards for and quality assuring the provision of education and training; maintaining a register of professionals; and taking action where a professional’s fitness to practise may be impaired.
  4. We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
  5. We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
  6. We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
  7. Our values are at the heart of who we are and what we do. We are committed to being impartial, fair, accessible and consistent in the application of our values.
  8. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at