Urgently needed changes to the legislation governing the Nursing and Midwifery Council will not now be made this parliament, after the government rejected calls from the regulator’s leadership to include them in today’s Queen’s speech.
Prime minister David Cameron pledged to make changes to the NMC’s “outdated and inflexible” legislation in the wake of the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust last year.
He said the public had been “badly let down” by the regulator’s failure to strike off any of the nurses involved in delivering poor care at the Midlands trust four years after the scandal first broke.
The NMC had been hoping the government would announce the bill to introduce much needed changes in the Queen’s speech today.
Under the changes the NMC would be able to make decisions faster and agree undertakings with nurses who accept their practise may be impaired, without the need to hold an expensive hearing.
Earlier this week NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith told Nursing Times without the changes the bill would bring the NMC would continue to operate under “woefully inadequate legislation” and could ultimately mean the regulator would be forced to increase registration fees even further in the future.
However, it did not feature in the list of bills announced in the speech today, which included legislation to introduce charges for plastic bags and changes to pension arrangements.
The speech marks the state opening of parliament and sets out the government’s planned legislative timetable for the next 12 months.
The fact it was not included means it will it will not be considered by parliament before the general election in May 2015.
In a statement released this lunchtime Ms Smith said: “I am hugely disappointed that the government has not included this revolutionary bill in its final session of parliament.
“Both the NMC and the public it protects now continue to be left, indefinitely, with a framework that does not best serve to protect the public.
“We will now take time to digest this disappointing news and work with the Department of Health on how we can now move forward and ensure the NMC is able to fulfil its ambition of becoming a more efficient and effective regulator.”