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Nurses will have no say in barring decisions


The head of a new super regulator has told Nursing Times it will not consult nurses it is considering barring from practice until it has already decided they pose a potential risk to patients.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority was set up to improve the identification of people who should not be working children and vulnerable adults, but unions have criticised it for being heavy handed.

Under its new vetting and barring scheme, which came into force for NHS staff in October, employers will refer to the ISA any staff they fear could pose a risk. The ISA will carry out an investigation, without speaking to the person concerned, and then write to anyone it is “minded to bar”, explaining the decision and setting out the next stages.

As a result it will decide whether it is “minded to bar” nurses referred to it before they have had a chance to put their case forward.

ISA chief executive Adrian McAllister argued that it was unnecessary to alert nurses to the fact they were being investigated. He told Nursing Times: “There would be little point in putting them in that position before we were thinking about barring them. In the vast majority of cases we don’t bar people.”

But Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said the potentially huge impact of an ISA ruling on someone’s career meant nurses should have a say earlier in the process.

She said: “If we look at it in the employment context, [there is normally] a general investigation before…a judgement. The difference is that the ISA can stop people working in a significant number of jobs, potentially precluding them from ever working in the public service.”

She said there were a number of problems with the system that still need to be “ironed out”, but discussions with the ISA had been “positive”.

Mr McAllister also confirmed that ISA would be able to overrule fitness to practise decisions by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the body that oversees all health regulators, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.

This could mean nurses being cleared of any wrongdoing by the NMC or CHRE but then barred by the ISA. Mr McAllister said: “There could be circumstances like that. These are going to be relatively few in number.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • Isn't anyone else scared as hell about this?

    We are already overregulated and scrutinised - not only for professional practice but also for conduct in our personal lives - using heavy handed witchunting techniques by the NMC. Now another body plans to be even more heavy handed, without even giving us our legal right to give our say? What a ******* joke!!!

    I have not long started this career, now I think I would have been better off never starting at all. Better off out.

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  • And just who will regulate these regulators from ruining our careers because of spurious and untrue allegations made against us?

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  • What have things come to, when will someone stand up to these people. Why do we pay our union subscriptions and registration fees. Big brother at it again, being put on trial and not even knowing about it. I'm just suprised that we don't have to pay for the service provided by ISA, but i'm sure someone will come up with a way to make money.

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  • I would like to clarify that it is absolutely not the case that nurses will have no say in barring decisions. A referral to the ISA will be made after an initial internal investigation following agreed local safeguarding and disciplinary procedures. This may also involve consulting with a relevant governing body or professional association.

    If, following the initial internal investigation and evidence gathering the employer thinks that 'relevant conduct' has occurred (a child or vulnerable adult has been harmed)or there is an ongoing risk of harm to the vulnerable and they have removed the person from regulated activity, they must make a referral to the ISA. As part of this process the employer should inform the person that as there is a risk to safeguarding, they will be referred to the ISA.

    On receipt of a referral, the ISA will write to the person advising them they have been referred. If, following a review of all the evidence the ISA is ‘minded to bar’, the person will be written to again and provided with copies of all the evidence the ISA has relied on in reaching that position. At this point a final decision has not yet been made. The person will be invited to make representations as to why they should not be barred. Upon receipt of the representations and any mitigating evidence provided by the referred person, the ISA will reassess the case in the light of the new information before coming to a final decision as to whether or not to place the person on one or both of the ISA’s barred lists.I suggest this is a far cry from the headline 'nurses will have no say in barring decisions'.

    There seems little value in creating an unnecessary bureaucracy whereby we ask the referred person for 'representations' in advance of the 'minded to bar' position being reached given that many cases will be closed prior to that point.

    Employers have always had a responsibility to deal with employee misconduct where harm has occurred or there is a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults. What has changed is the duty placed upon employers to make a referral to the ISA in such circumstances.

    On the point of spurious allegations, I am acutely aware that this is an issue the ISA has to deal with. The ISA has ben making barring decisions for over a year now and I have no evidence, and have received no representations that the ISA has barred someone on this basis. If there is evidence to the contrary, then I would be grateful to receive it and I will review the case as a matter of urgency.

    Finally, we continue to work with the Health Sector, relevant regulatory bodies and Unions to help clarify the requirements of the Scheme and I believe good progress is being made, not least with regard the referral process.

    Adrian McAllister
    Chief Executive
    Independent Safeguarding Authority

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  • Dear Mr McAllister,

    Could you please explain why the ISA is neccessary for professionals? GMC or NMC not up to doing their job perhaps? On recent evidence I think we might all agree. But why create another level of bureaucracy?


    Concerned Nurse (And member of the public)

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  • yangqing

    "There seems little value in creating an unnecessary bureaucracy whereby we ask the referred person for 'representations' in advance of the 'minded to bar' position being reached given that many cases will be closed prior to that point."

    OMG, anyone find outraged by this?

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