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DH reveals plan to overhaul health professional regulation

  • 6 Comments

The Department of Health has revealed that it intends to publish plans to overhaul professional regulation in the autumn.

The move emerged last week when the DH told the Nursing and Midwifery Council to “urgently review” the way it treats patients and bereaved families.

“Issues raised in this case will inform the consultation we plan to publish in the autumn”

DH spokesman

It followed criticism of the NMC by the Professional Standards Authority for “deficient” handling of fitness to practise case against two midwives Gretta Dixon and Catherine McCullough.

The case related to baby Joshua Titcombe who died at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust in 2008 from an infection that was not spotted by maternity staff.

It was found that relevant evidence was not submitted to the NMC’s panel before it decided to clear the two midwives in March. This included evidence of his parents’ concerns compiled shortly before Joshua’s death, as well as the findings of an inquest in 2011 and expert medical testimony.

The Department of Health said last Thursday it would consider the issues raised by the case as part of plans to reform professional regulation in the autumn. It also said regulators needed to ensure they were acting on recommendations from the Kirkup report into the past failures at Morecambe Bay.

A DH spokesman said: “The NMC needs urgently to review the way it treats patients and bereaved families who are witnesses in these cases and the way it handles evidence. The PSA will be writing to the NMC on these matters.

“The government is committed to reform of professional regulation and the issues raised in this case will help to inform the consultation we plan to publish in the autumn,” he said.

Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar of the NMC, said: “We are completely committed to ensuring our fitness to practise procedures continue to be stringent. We have made considerable progress in recent years but we recognise that there is still more to do.

“We take very seriously the treatment of witnesses and bereaved families and that is why we set up a dedicated witness liaison service which supports witnesses through what can sometimes be a stressful process,” she said, adding: “We are keen to address all the concerns raised by the PSA.”

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • The NMC is totally useless, and will continue to make poor decisions until it is investigated. Finally the DoH are doing something about them!

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  • I agree as an Employer who referred an employee it was a waste of time.

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  • I think the end of the NMC is not far away!

    It is also something that could happen as has been the case with professions brought into the Health Profession Council Registration and Regulation

    This would be good for practitioners who would share a common code of behaviour and conduct and for patients who would only need to remember one regulator

    Cross pollination of professional registration could be a good thing!

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  • The DH has recommended the NMC reviews the way it treats witnesses etc and that will be part of the overhaul. However while the NMC's structure may change it will remain its core functions and personnel in a niche field will be the same however nurses are regulated

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  • The NMC also needs to review the way it treats it's members.

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  • The NMC is weak and expensive. I'm a health visitor and the organisation barely bothers to consider my work or the vulnerability of patients to poor practice or poor practitioners in this work.

    In relation to discipline, I realise that they are dealing with matters far removed from the distress of patients who have suffered harm or those who love them. They deal legalistically, not as avengers. They need to balance bad practice against bad training, bad leadership and human failings.

    Public protection should have more influence, but don't forget that professionals at hearings will usually be legally represented and this leads to pleas of mitigation. Ok, it's not a kangeroo court or a witch hunt, but I do wish patients had a representative to argue harder for public protection.

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