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Fears over 'punitive' safeguarding scheme

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Opposition is mounting against a scheme aimed at protecting vulnerable patients that could see nurses banned from practising even if they have been formally cleared of any wrongdoing.

Under the vetting and barring scheme, trusts will be unable to employ any nurse thought to pose a risk to children or vulnerable adults by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

But concerns are being raised that ISA will be able to over-rule the decisions of professional regulators such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, as well as its overseeing body, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.

CHRE chief executive Harry Cayton said the scheme was overly “punitive” as draft guidelines suggested ISA would make no allowances for one-off mistakes.

He said: “If we’re saying that we can’t make one error or one wrongdoing, there will hardly be anybody left.

“I don’t agree with the idea that a single instance of dishonesty which has been dealt with by another course is sufficient to stop people practising as a health professional.”

The ISA guidelines, due to be enforced from November 2010, are also being criticised as too intrusive.

Characteristics that could trigger removal from the register include the “belief that one is entitled to or deserves sex”, “severe emotional loneliness” and “links with anti-social peers and/or associates”.

Those thought to have an “impulsive, chaotic, unstable lifestyle” could also be removed.

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “When you look at these behaviours, they’re very subjective and very difficult to judge everyone by.”

The list, developed by criminal psychologists as a way of detecting paedophiles, was an inappropriate way of assessing the majority of nurses, she said.

Unison is heading a coalition of trade unions lobbying for changes to the scheme.

They oppose the £64 cost of registering with ISA, on top of NMC registration fees, and what they see as the lack of a clear appeal mechanism.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The new vetting and barring scheme is a measure designed to help prevent those who are known to be unsuitable from gaining access to children and vulnerable adults through their work in the NHS.

“It will also contribute to patient safety through sharing of information with regulatory bodies like the General Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission.”

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • How many of you ladies and gents will be paying out this £64 when we have already been told that technically we will be getting a pay cut from now on, continually makes you wonder why we entered the nursing professsion in the first place, when we are penalised and subjected to this. This is a ridiculous idea, when it can be anecdotal, or even chinese whispers that means the end of your career.Will doctors have to submit to this??

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  • Everyone who works with vulnerable groups of people had to register. It's a crime to be employed working with such without being registered for both the employer and the employee / volunteer. I want to see more coverage of this in the trade press and the national press. Surely the public can have no confidence in the NMC after the last few years but this system goes against everything that belonging to a professional body means. If the NMC is not doing it's job then it needs to be retired. Sure, register everybody else if you think it'll stop abuse - but let's see the evidence after a couple of years.

    More patients are maimed and killed by overworked and poorly trained staff than by those deemed unsuitable for employment by CRB or this new register.

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