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Public views sought on standards of conduct for nurses

Public views sought on standards of conduct for nurses

The Nursing Council is seeking public feedback on a new draft Code of Conduct it is developing for nurses.

The current code was developed in 1994 and since then there have been huge changes in society, technology, nursing practice and the healthcare and legislative environments. The new draft Code has been substantially reviewed to bring it into line with situations nurses may encounter today and to reflect more contemporary attitudes and values.

Nursing Council Chief Executive Carolyn Reed says the purpose of the Code is to outline minimum standards of conduct for nurses, to inform the public of the standards nurses are expected to uphold and to provide a means by which the conduct of nurses can be evaluated - by the public, employers and regulatory authorities who assess complaints about nurses.

“It is important that nurses have a clear idea of what is expected of them in both their professional and private lives. Nurses are trusted to care for people when they are at their most vulnerable because the profession as a whole is trusted. That respect for the profession has been earned by individual nurses, who on a daily basis, work with integrity and competence. If a nurse does not adhere to the expected standards, there may be a complaint about their performance and it can affect the reputation of the profession,” she says.

Fortunately Mrs Reed says the standard of nursing in New Zealand is very high. In the last year, the Council investigated 30 complaints for conduct issues, representing only a tiny proportion of the 48,527 nurses currently practising.

As the overarching purpose of the Code is the safety of the public, Ms Reed says, the Nursing Council wants to make sure that the standards detailed are aligned with public expectations.

The draft Code, the consultation questionnaire and a background document can be found on the Council website here.

“We hope the Code will help nurses make wise judgements in new or complex situations to ensure the profession continues to be trusted and the public kept safe,” Mrs Reed said.

The draft code breaks new ground in providing guidance on a range of new issues from the rights of health consumers to professional boundaries to social media. For example, nurses are advised to avoid networking with current or former patients on social media sites or, where possible, to seek the reassignment of care of health consumers with whom they have a pre-existing non-professional relationship.

The Council is also interested in enhancing the ways that health consumers can influence the work of the Council and in developing relationships with consumer groups and to this end Mrs Reed is inviting consumer groups to meet with her to discuss the draft Code or other matters relevant to the Council’s work in protecting public safety.


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