Standards & Guidance

HomeStandards & Guidance Code Quality of Practice

Principle 3: quality of practice

principle three

This principle focuses on safety, competence, kindness, compassion, caring and protection from harm. Patients have a right to receive quality care by competent nurses and midwives who practise in a safe environment.


  1. Nurses and midwives who are competent, safety-conscious and who act with kindness and compassion, provide safe, high-quality care.
  2. Nurses and midwives make sure that the health care environment is safe for themselves, their patients and their colleagues.
  3. Nurses and midwives aim to give the highest quality of care to all people in their professional care.
  4. Nurses and midwives use evidence-based knowledge and apply best practice standards in their work.
  5. Nurses and midwives value research. Research is central to the nursing and midwifery professions. Research informs standards of care and ensures that both professions provide the highest quality and most cost-effective services to society.

Standards of conduct

  1. You must report any safety concerns you have about the health care environment and help to find solutions through appropriate lines of authority (such as your manager, employer or relevant regulatory body).
  2. You should deliver safe and competent practice based on best available evidence and best practice standards.
  3. You should actively participate in good clinical governance to ensure safe, quality care.
  4. You should be kind and compassionate in your practice.
  5. You must be competent to practise safely as a nurse or midwife. If there are limitations to your competency, you and your employer should address them so that you can practise safely and within your scope of practice.
  6. You must keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date by taking part in relevant continuing professional development. You must be prepared to demonstrate your competence if required.
  7. If you are involved in research, you should refer to the Board's guidance on the ethical conduct of nursing and midwifery research and the ethical policies and procedures you are required to follow. You must ensure that the rights of patients are protected at all times in the research process.

Supporting  guidance

Reporting safety concerns

Nurses and midwives have a distinctive responsibility for upholding the quality and safety of the health care environment. This responsibility extends to reporting your concerns where you consider patient dignity is not respected. Nursing and midwifery managers have a responsibility to report and act on safety concerns that staff share with them. It may be necessary to escalate concerns if they are not dealt with by those in authority. This may involve staff or managers reporting to the next supervisory level.

Safe, quality practice is promoted by nurses and midwives actively participating in incident reporting, adverse event reviews and open disclosure.
National legislation and employer policy should be referred to for information on the legal responsibilities of the employee and the employer regarding health and safety concerns. The Protected Disclosures Act 2014, Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and Protection of Disclosures of Information (Part 14 of the Health Act, 2007) are key sources. General information about protected disclosures and whistleblowing in the health services is available from the Patient Safety First initiative.

National standards from other regulators (for example: Health Information and Quality Authority and the Mental Health Commission) give information about safe standards of care. An international source is the World Health Organisation Patient Safety initiative.

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

(PDF, 0.32 MB)


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