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'Absolute mess' as search for new NMC chair is abandoned

Government ministers look set to be made responsible for selecting the next chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, following a breakdown in the appointments process.

It emerged today that the Appointments Commission, which has been leading the search to fill the post, has abandoned the task, leaving the regulator’s long-term leadership in further doubt.

A public meeting of the NMC’s council today heard that the Appointments Commission had stopped its process in light of the critical review of the regulator by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, published earlier this month.

Instead of the commission, the meeting heard, it had been decided that the appointment would now me made by the Privy Council. The announcement was made in a statement from the Department of Health presented at the meeting.

The Privy Council – traditionally an advisory body to the sovereign – is made up of current and former government ministers. It will make the appointment with advice from the DH, the DH statement said.

Following the announcement, senior NMC staff and council members complained that the organisation had already spend £62,000 on developing a job description and other work on the recruitment process.

NMC acting chief executive Jackie Smith said the job description and appointment process had been agreed with the DH and Appointments Commission, following the CHRE’s interim report earlier this year. She said: “We are eager to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

A total of 44 candidates had applied for the role of chair, reduced down to a shortlist of eight, before the decision to abandon the search was made last week.

Acting chair of the council Judith Ellis described the situation as “unacceptable” and council member David Pyle said the situation was an “absolute mess and a disgrace”.

Council member Lorna Jacobs said: “It is fairly alarming that this has been derailed. If the Privy Council chooses a process that is not open and transparent then council members will have to take a view as to whether they can have confidence in a chair that is appointed in that way.”

Council member Jane Tunstall said the NMC had acted in “good faith” adding: “We should send the bill for £62,000 to [health secretary] Andrew Lansley.”

Unison’s head of nursing Gail Adams said the appointment process was in “uncharted waters” but she stressed: “There is an issue about transparency but we mustn’t get lost in the process, the most important thing is to get the right person and that the NMC survives.”

Ms Ellis said the NMC would press ahead with its plans to improve in the wake of the CHRE report and that a strategy day planned in October would go ahead.

She said: “We need to keep moving forward, we can’t afford not to.”

The CHRE report said the regulator had failings “at every level”.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Hardly surprising .... Left hand right hand issues, why it would cost £62,000 is unimaginable. Probably fits well with why Australian, USA nurses with masters degrees in Nursing Eucation and thesis written in APA format have to take an IELTS exam and yet non-English European trained do not... Unbelievable, my mothers nurses could not understand enough language to under stained her concern, where is the sense.

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  • “We should send the bill for £62,000 to [health secretary] Andrew Lansley.”

    I dare say it will be paid for by our hike in Reg fees!

    NMC can't seem to get anything right.

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  • Pirate and Parrot

    NMC stories just get better and better, don't they.

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  • why is it important that the 'nmc survives' - they don't seem very good at their job.

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  • Forget the 120 pound registration fee,lets have a whip round and fund a competent leader-Bob Diamond/Fred Goodwin,both looking for work. The NMC makes the Bankers appear normal!!!

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  • the GNC and the UKCC did not survive, for whatever reasons, nor did the ENB which ran a wide range of postgraduate courses. so why is it so important that the NMC survives? The way this is expressed in the article gives the impression that that it must survive, and at all costs, for the benefit of those working there.

    Maybe a fresh start with a brand new organisational model with the right calibre of staff would be more appropriate and successful.

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  • Why does it cost £62k to write a job description and complete a recruitment process? For the DoH to abandon this process there must be something else the public is not being told about what the NMC had developed.

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  • Why do all of the links in this article go to advertisments?

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  • £62,000 on a job description! They should all resign and get a job in banking.
    So out of touch, if nurses showed such a lack of understanding they would loose their registration. Time to go.

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  • £62,000.
    Bet they could have got a full page job ad in the Nursing Times for less! What's wrong with the job description used last time? Dickon ( Head) Weir is why!

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jul-2012 1:16 pm

    the NMC trying to raise some cash?

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  • Florence

    £62,000!! Does not surprise me at all !! And we will be footing that bill when the fees go up !

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