There has been an unexplained spike in referrals to the Nursing and Midwifery Council in recent months – though the regulator has so far stopped short of linking it to the Francis report.
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said “quite a large” increase in referrals had been seen during both April and May.
“We normally expect to receive around 350 referrals a month and it was around 430 [per month], so it was quite an increase.”
“We have always had periods throughout the year when we’ve had spikes, so two months is far too little a time to come to any conclusions about it. It just happens that regulators occasionally have spikes without really understanding why.
“Obviously we’re keeping a very close eye on it, because if it was to be repeated over the next four to eight months then that would have significant implications for the organisation.”
She noted that the figures available so far for June were “not anywhere near 430”.
However, Ms Smith revealed that more members of the public had made referrals than usual during April and May.
“We get more or less an even number of referrals from employers and members of the public. This [spike] is slightly higher from members of the public, but we can’t say that’s as a result of Francis,” she said.
One of the reasons cited by the NMC for the registration fee rise was a forecast 8% surge in referrals, which was predicted partly as a result of the publication of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry report.
However, the spike failed to emerge during the last financial year, which ended on 31 March, and referrals were actually down by 10%, compared with the same point in 2011-12.
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