An absence of registrants at the top tier of the Nursing and Midwifery Council has prompted it to create a panel of senior nurses and midwives to advise it.
The NMC Senior Registrants Strategic Advisory Group will be made up of 22 senior nurses and midwives who still work at the frontline.
Details of the group’s membership are yet to be released. However, Nursing Times understands that it will comprise a mix of senior representatives from each of the four UK countries, including directors of nursing, heads of midwifery and educational leads.
“We want it to be a success and if it is, we want to keep it”
The NMC council has been restructured several times in recent years in the wake of concerns about the regulator’s performance.
It is currently has 12 members, with six members from a registrant background.
However, neither the council’s present chair Mark Addison nor the NMC’s chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith have a nursing or midwifery background. This has prompted criticism from some in the profession.
Ms Smith told Nursing Times that she rejected any suggestion that not being a registrant affected her ability to do her job. But she recognised there were “gaps in terms of engagement” between the NMC and the professions it regulated.
“We need to get them [the advisors] in and hear what they say,” she said, adding: “We want it to be a success and if it is, we want to keep it.”
According to the group’s terms of reference – seen by Nursing Times – it is intended to provide a “regular opportunity” for the NMC council to “engage with senior registrants and share insights, information about strategic developments”.
Such developments currently include revisions to the nursing code of conduct and plans to introduce a system of regular competence checks, known as revalidation.
The group’s role will be to advise the NMC council on whether its proposals and initiatives are “fit for purpose and will enhance public protection”.
It will also be asked to disseminate information about the NMC’s regulatory and strategic developments to a wider group of registrants, and advise it on how best to engage with senior registrants on a wide range of issues.
The group’s meetings will take place on a quarterly basis, with the first one scheduled to have taken place on Monday 14 July.
Nursing Times understands that the main topic on the agenda for the first meeting was the code of conduct and, in particular, defining the “fundamental purpose” of the code.