The Nursing and Midwifery Council has begun a review of how it should respond to apparent “systemic” failings in care.
The regulator has asked Dame Elizabeth Fradd to lead the work, which follows its intervention at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust after serious concerns were raised about the trust, including nursing standards.
It was one of the first occasions the NMC had acted in such a way and chief executive Dickon Weir-Hughes – while vowing to be proactive in future – admitted there was no clear process for when it should intervene.
The NMC said it aimed to “create a list of triggers that might lead to a healthcare setting coming under scrutiny by the NMC, a set of criteria against which that healthcare setting would be evaluated and details of how such interventions will be carried out”.
The Basildon work resulted in no fitness to practise cases but did make recommendations to the trust, including about how its nursing leadership worked and related to the board.
NMC director of standards and registrations Roger Thompson said in a statement: “We will be looking into how and when the NMC should go about proactively working to ensure that neither care of the public nor education of student nurses and midwives is compromised by systemic failings.
“We are looking forward to putting in place a robust system for effectively tackling these cases in the future.”
Dame Elizabeth, an independent adviser, former nurse director at the Commission for Health Improvement and former Department of Health assistant chief nurse, said the “important piece of work” was “a measure of the determination of the NMC to prevent either individual or systemic failings undermining the level of care the public receive from nurses and midwives”.