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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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Readers' comments (35)

  • I 'm not surprised, as the same person who got the fitness to practise service in such a mess, was/ still is the interim CEO but looks like she is the substantive post holder now. Let us see if our increased fees to the NMC and 'another year' as promised in this article will bear better results?

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  • I fully agree, it's no surprise that the problems persist as we have the same team at the top. When is the NMC going to move into the 21st century?

    What we need are passionate, entrepreneurial clinicians at the helm who put patients, patient welfare and the wellbeing of the profession at the forefront rather than the crusty old "twin set and pearls" brigade that have dominated for too many years.

    I'll wait and see how things change but certainly won't hold my breath!

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  • The NMC has been in a mess for many many years and largely under the leadership and influence of the healthcare professionals. I agree you should change the top tear but the regulators that perform well ensure no one from the profession works for them as this is a huge conflict of interest. Its protection of the public and not the profession that counts. Its the role of the trade union not the regulator to protect the professions interest.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 28-Jun-2013 1:27 pm

    '... as this is a huge conflict of interest. Its protection of the public and not the profession that counts. Its the role of the trade union not the regulator to protect the professions interest.'

    Yes, 100% - the NMC is there to protect patients.

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  • Whereas it is not the role of the NMC to protect the Nursing profession, neither is it the role of the unions. They are there to protect their individual members in relation to terms of employment; e.g. fair wages, fair treatment and protection within employment law, etc.

    The Royal College of Nursing should be representative of a professional organisation, but has tried ineffectively to pass itself of as a professional body and a union. It has failed to do either. It either needs to split it's role or lose the role of one completely and concentrate on being the other. Personally, I would like to see the 'union' side dropped. Nurses need a powerful and active union which stands as a union for nurses.

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  • If this is improvement Im not impressed........I recenlty went to renew my registration and was told that I couldnt even though I had completed a Return To Practice course within the past 5 years!!

    Which is one of the requirments they have listed on the paperwork they sent me!
    I think the problem may be that the NOP forms do not have a box to tick for the RTP course and the forms are scanned by a machine when they go back to the NMC

    This is my career they are messing with!
    Lots of nursing jobs finally showing up and I cant apply for them???

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  • So, if it hasn't improved overall, but is making progress in several areas. Which areas have they gotten worse in?

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  • Tinkerbell

    redpaddys12 | 28-Jun-2013 11:12 pm

    Well spotted. Think they thought you wouldn't notice that one. Glad someone did, shows we're thinking.

    I would like either you or jeremy paxman to get them in and give them a run for their money and ask them the same question.

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  • why do they have so many butch looking women in these higher healthcare related positions? it is enough to put one off nursing for life!

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  • What does how someone look have to do with anything?

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