The Nursing and Midwifery Council has cut its backlog from more than 1,500 cases to just 44, but regulating healthcare assistants as well would be a “step too far”, the regulator’s senior officials have told MPs.
Chair Mark Addison and chief executive Jackie Smith faced a grilling from members of the Common’s health committee last week at the regulator’s annual accountability hearing.
They were asked about their progress with the backlog of fitness to practise cases, which in March 2012 stood at 1,589.
Ms Smith said 44 of these cases remained unresolved, but the majority had a hearing scheduled. She said a handful more were on hold due to investigations by the police and other third parties.
During the 90 minute hearing, Mr Addison and Ms Smith were also asked whether the organisation was capable of regulating healthcare assistants. Mr Addison said it would be a “step too far” for the regulator at the moment, but that would not be the position “forever”.
Committee chair Sir Stephen Dorrell questioned whether they were confident the NMC could introduce revalidation for nurses by 2015, noting it had taken the General Medical Council 10 years to introduce a similar system for doctors.
Mr Addison insisted a system of nurse revalidation would be ready by 31 December 2015.
“I agree there’s a huge amount to do to get to that point…. I think the timetable is realistic,” he told MPs.
Asked about the costs of revalidation, Mr Addison said it would depend on the size of the audit sample, but the biggest costs were likely to fall on the wider system and those employers who did not have an existing appraisal system in place.
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