The Code outlines the professional criteria that nurses, midwives, and nursing associates must meet in order to be registered to practice in the United Kingdom. It is organized around four themes: people first, practice successfully, maintain safety, and encourage professionalism and trust. The Code consists of six parts: a statement of principles; a description of the competencies required from nurses and midwives; requirements for registration; guidelines for conduct; codes of conduct for those who provide care or treatment within the scope of practice; and finally, an appendix containing examples of good practice.
Registration as a nurse or midwife will not guarantee that someone is competent to practise. In order to remain qualified, nurses and midwives must continue to develop their skills by attending educational courses and/or participating in professional development activities.
As a student you will be expected to adhere to the Code at all times while studying with us, whether you are learning in classroom settings or through online study programs. We believe this will help ensure the quality of education provided and protect the public interest.
The Code is considered mandatory and not optional for staff members.
The codes outline the legal obligations, as well as the professional behavior and conduct standards for all nurses and midwives in all practicing situations. The guidelines are vital for the professions because they assist nurses and midwives in carrying out their professional responsibilities in a safe manner. The codes also serve to protect patients, families, and the public.
By specifying the proper actions to be taken at each stage of care, the codes help ensure that patient safety is not compromised even under the most stressful circumstances. For example, when making decisions about how to manage a clinical situation involving conflict between patients' rights or wishes and those of others, nurses must consider both the long-term and short-term effects of their choices on themselves, other patients, and their careers.
The codes also provide guidance on such topics as confidentiality, communication, documentation, and evidence-based practice. By learning what behaviors are expected of them, nurses can carry out their duties within the context of good judgment and ethics.
Finally, the codes help establish clear expectations for nurses' conduct in different practice settings. In hospitals for example, it is important that nurses act with the highest degree of professionalism at all times so that patients, families, colleagues, and others working with them understand exactly how they want their care to be delivered. This ensures that the goals of care are met while minimizing any harm done to the patient.
Professional standards, which include codes of conduct, standards for practice, and codes of ethics, define the practice and behavior of nurses and midwives. They establish principles that guide what behaviors constitute acceptable practice.
In addition to setting a moral compass for their practices, nurses' professional standards also help guide them through laws and regulations that may be changing or being created as they go along. For example, health care reform has brought about changes to insurance coverage and benefits, which have influenced how nurses provide care. The standards ensure that nurses remain consistent in their practice so that patients do not experience discrimination due to a nurse's personal views.
Nursing professional standards may be national in scope (such as the Code of Ethics for Nurses published by the American Nurses Association) or state specific (such as the code of ethics for Louisiana nurses).
All states require nurses to have legal representation in order to certify them as licensed professionals. These attorneys serve as advocates for nurses before regulatory agencies and other courts. They can also provide advice on issues such as labor law violations, employment contracts, and union matters.
Nurses must comply with all laws and regulations to which they are subject as part of practicing medicine.