Standards & Guidance

Purpose, aims and structure of the Code

The new Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics has been developed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) and is effective from May 2021. It replaces first edition published in December 2014 and follows an extensive consultation process. 

The purpose of the Code is to guide you in your day-to-day practice and help you to understand your professional responsibilities in caring for patients in a safe, ethical and effective way.

The aims of the Code are to:

  • support and guide you in your ethical and clinical decision-making, your ongoing reflection and professional self-development
  • inform the general public about the professional care they can expect from you
  • emphasise the importance of your obligations to recognise and respond to the needs of patients and families
  • set standards for the regulation, monitoring and enforcement of professional conduct

All registered nurses and midwives in each area of practice (clinical, education, research, administration or management) should adhere to the Code’s principles, values and standards of conduct. 

Every nurse and midwife has a responsibility to uphold the values of the professions to ensure their practice reflects high standards of professional practice and protects the public. If a registered nurse or midwife does not follow the Code and a complaint is made against them, the Board can investigate that nurse or midwife.

Nursing and midwifery students should become familiar with the Code as part of their education. 

The Nurses and Midwives Act of 2011 requires the Board to provide guidelines to the approved schools of nursing and midwifery on ethical standards and behaviours for students. Nursing and midwifery students should become familiar with the Code and its supporting documents as part of their education.

The Board believes that employers have a responsibility to acknowledge the importance of the Code’s values and standards in their relationship with nurse and midwife employees. This Code refers to relevant national legislation, as it also directs and supports the promotion of the high standards expected of a nurse and midwife.

Specific issues concerning professional practice will be considered when they arise and may be the subject of professional practice guidelines to be produced by the Board as required.

The structure of the Code

The Code is based on five principles. They govern:

  • Respect for the dignity of the person.
  • Professional responsibility and accountability.
  • Quality of practice.
  • Trust and confidentiality.
  • Collaboration with others.

Each principle underpins the Code’s ethical values and related standards of conduct and practice, and guides the relationships between nurses, midwives, patients and colleagues. The ethical values state the primary goals and obligations of nurses and midwives. The standards of conduct and professional practice follow on from these values and show the attitudes and behaviours that members of the public have the right to expect from you. The trio of principles, values and standards of conduct are of equal importance and should be considered in association with each other.

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Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives

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