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Call to strengthen NMC powers over lack of Mid Staffs sanctions

Ministers have been challenged to make urgent changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s powers in order to improve public protection – as it emerged just 13 nurses are currently facing sanctions in relation to the high profile care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

The regulator currently has no powers to review decisions by its panels to close cases when they decide there is no case to answer – even where fresh evidence comes to light.

Prime minister David Cameron announced plans to ask the Law Commission to review the NMC’s powers earlier this month, in response to the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry report.

However, the review is not likely to finish till 2014 and it could then take years for its recommendations to be implemented.

John Healey, Labour MP for Rotherham and former shadow health secretary, last week called on the government to act now, highlighting that other professional regulators such as the General Medical Council already had similar powers.

“This delay is unacceptable and urgent action is needed now to improve public confidence and put nurses and midwives on a par with other professions,” he said.

In a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, published last week, NMC chair Mark Addison said he hoped the government would put the new powers in place “significantly in advance” of the completion of the Law Commission’s review.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We will consider the points raised in the Rt Hon John Healey’s letter and will respond to him in due course.”

Mr Addison also responded to Mr Cameron’s demand on 6 February that the NMC explain why no nurses had been struck off in relation to the failings at Mid Staffordshire.

Registered midwife Bonka Kostava, who was working as a healthcare assistant at the trust, has subsequently been struck off since Mr Cameron’s remarks.

Of the other 54 referrals relating to Mid Staffs, 12 are still to face a public hearing – including the trust’s former director of nursing Jan Harry.  Many of the referrals are scheduled to take place this month.

However, an NMC panel found there was no case to answer in 37 cases and a tribunal judged a further two nurses’ Fitness to Practise was not impaired. Three more referrals are still being screened.

  • The NMC has extended its suspension of applications from overseas nurses for a further month to “ensure its systems are as strong as possible”. As reported by Nursing Times last week, the move follows warnings from the regulator that some overseas nurses may be fraudulently registered.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Contact the police

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  • Do you have any idea of the delay in processing pins for nurses from Canada, US, New Zealand and Australia is causing since they have finished the ONP { Overseas Nursing Program } and you have held up registration since February and now until at least April, nurses are waiting to go to work with no funds unable to work, hospitals are severely compromised and patient outcomes are severely affected with high levels of patient to nurses ratios in staffing, what are you thinking surely there is something that can be done while you Audit and not hold up the process...its lunacy and the government needs to do something with the auditors and NMC, absolutely crazy and we are losing great nurses who have to go back home because they can not wait any longer to go to work, what is wrong with you people have you lost all your cogent thinking and do you not think about patient safety or care? How about an answer from some one, MPs are looking at you and the people of UK and London are going to have their say, it is cruel and heinous what you are doing and the pain and delays you are causing, shame, shame shame on you auditors at NMC obviously you have no one to support and could care less about patient care failings right now, there will be a death or two because of your unwillingness to see the forest for the trees.

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