Nursing regulator still failing standards but 'on track' to improve
The overall performance of the Nursing and Midwifery Council has not improved over the past 12 months, but there are signs of progress in some areas, according to its annual performance review.
The Professional Standards Authority, which oversees the work of the NMC, judged that the nursing regulator had not met, or inconsistently met, eight out of 24 key performance standards for good regulation for the second year running.
These included ongoing concerns about the timeliness and quality of decision making in fitness to practise cases, its failure to introduce online registration and its lack of progress towards developing a system of annual revalidation for nurses.
However, while the PSA judged the NMC was not yet meeting the required standards in these areas, it said it was starting to make improvements and praised work such as the introduction of new rules and standards for midwives.
The NMC also underwent a strategic review into its structure and leadership last year, which was requested by the government following ongoing concerns about its performance.
The findings, published last July, led to a major overhaul of the regulator’s leadership structure and the putting in place of an improvement programme.
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith, who was confirmed in the post on a permanent basis two weeks ago, acknowledged that the overall performance of the NMC was “similar to last year”.
But she told Nursing Times she thought there were “green shoots” of improvement. For example, the NMC has reduced its historic caseload – those received before January 2011 – from 584 in January to 231, and average investigation time from 22 months in January 2011 to 7.8 months in May 2013.
“We’ve made progress but it’s still early days and we have a way to go,” she said. “We are only nine months into the improvement programme.”
However, she said that in another 12 months the NMC would “definitely be in a better place”. There would be “differences in key areas” such as fitness to practise, revalidation and financial stability, Ms Smith said.
She highlighted that the regulator aimed to clear its historic backlog of cases by the winter and that initial proposals for revalidation were due to be signed off by the NMC council in September.
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