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NMC plans to remove medicines management standards


The Nursing and Midwifery Council is planning to withdraw its standards for medicines management, according to draft proposals drawn up as part of its major review of nurse education.

The regulator said that many parts of the profession had suggested that it was not the NMC’s role to produce such standards and that employers themselves should be responsible for the medicines management area of practice.

In NMC council papers, due to be discussed next week, the regulator also said it had been told that its detailed standards on medicines management – last updated in 2007 – could be a “barrier to more contemporary medicines optimisation approaches”.

“[The NMC’s standards] can be a barrier to more contemporary medicines optimisation approaches”

NMC council papers

In addition, it noted that no other professional regulator set requirements for medicines management in the way that it currently did, and that the NMC code for nurses and midwives ”covered” the area, as would the draft new standards for pre-registration education.

The regulator acknowledged that some concerns had, however, been raised that a number of organisations and individuals relied on the present NMC’s standards on medicines management.

But the NMC said it had “identified current available guidance relating to managing medicines”, which was produced by other professional bodies “that are better placed to produce fully up to date guidance in this area of practice”.

“If a decision was taken at a later date to remove these standards, we would take the opportunity to work with others to signpost to such guidance from our website, thus offering a more proportionate approach to patient safety and public protection,” said the council papers.

The NMC council will decide at a meeting next week whether to agree to hold a consultation on withdrawing the standards.


Readers' comments (7)

  • Laura Hodgetts

    That is very surprising and dangerous in some ways. A major part of what nurses do is to administer medications in a variety of doses and Routes. We already have a substantial amount of medicines errors in qualified practice, surely we need MORE work in terms of pharmacology, polypharmacy and actual administration to give people more of an awareness and protect patients from what had the potential to be fatal?

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  • Medicines management standards guide nurses to administer medicines safely and with much confidence following the NMC standards. Without the guide many patients may be at risk of being administered with wrong medicines or wrong doses.

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  • This is a dangerous move by NMC. Many nurses work in care homes where policies only see light of day when there is a problem. Training can be scant.
    With the NMC medicines management EVERY nurse is aware or should be aware of the correct procedures to follow, regardless of setting.
    I suggest NMC reconsider this for the safety of patient, residents AND nurses

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  • Yes to above comments.

    Plus, when some Coroner Inquests fail to act diligently and so do not get a toxicology report from the histopathologist doing the postmortem (even when the CQC rates an EMH care home as failing to meet lawful standards re giving out medications because doses could be timed badly and 2 or more doses might be routinely administered simultaneously, thereby becoming toxic) this is a cause for extreme concern.

    If mistakes are made, then the Coroner, if alerted, (but it seems there may be some sophisticated antics adopted by some employers, supervisory bodies and coroners police/courts to avoid this) has a duty to inform higher authorities through a PFD (Prevent Future Deaths) finding at inquest so that steps can be taken to put things right. Sensible but that rarely happens in fact.

    Some coroners and pathologists have already expressed concerns about who orders which investigations and whether or not investigations are performed. There is a great variation. If the Coroner's Police are slap dash and institutionalised about vulnerable people terrible outcomes could result.

    Most of us are aware that some police forces and other protection services are presently very, very poor at protecting vulnerable people who are unable to defend themselves. Over 61% of care homes in Stockport and Salford were I believe rated in the Independence Age survey recently as not meeting lawful standards! Shockingly poor.

    This plan to remove medicines management standards is tantamount to giving misguided and poor protection services in several public areas the all clear to kill or be complicit in killing with impunity.

    And still we have NHS senior managers who are not regulated and checked as other health workers are.

    In times when some political parties ignore the fact that the UK is the 5th largest and richest economy in the world in preference for spending less of the Gross National Product on health and social care so that more tax relief becomes available to those who quite possibly would prefer not to see the massive social divide grow even larger, this is a worry.

    There have already been terrible and despicable cruelties to vulnerable people because too much emphasis has been placed on short term economies rather than safe and cost effective care (Brithdir, Keldgate Manor and the misuse of the Liverpool Care Pathway etc).

    If the standards need updated then UPDATE THEM but have more sense than to withdraw them!!

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  • One of the organizations expressing significant concern about this proposed move is the NHS Network for Medicines Management Nurses. They acknowledged the need to update the standards and have offered to work with the NMC to do this. However they have also made the point that setting the professional standards that nurses should adhere to when giving medicines to patients is a public protection issue - and that is the NMC's core function.

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  • Time to bring back the robust assessment in practice. A whole drug round with the grilling afterwards, to ensure our knowledge base was sound and safe. Students in their third year with a dreadful level of understanding of many basic medications in practice. Barely able to put them into condition groups let alone standard doses, basic side effects etc....They want to bring back the 'green book' standards for basic skills, yet they pass the buck as far as one of THE MOST IMPORTANT AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS tasks we undertake. On top of which with this level of understanding move towards prescribing soon after qualifying when some staff nurses are not up to speed- despite assessments. Assessments which merely assess the ability to undertake a medicine round...While education standards are increasing- clinical skills are lagging far behind and the NMC cannot seem to grasp what is happening at ground level...

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  • Agree with most of the comments. Even senior nurses and managers who boast themselves I have been trained in the Army and reached the level of Colonel or general or whatever rubbish title, cannot even do division and multiplication by 10 which is the simplest arithmetic in nursing dosages of drug administration. No wonder when it comes to more complicated dosages where weight is needed to titrate accordingly, they run like headless chicken to other junior staff. However, they are the ones, yes plural, who benefit the money at the end of each and every month. There must be more rigorous and robust assessments on student nurses, newly qualified and those who have been nursing for a long time but are resistant to get their knowledge up to date. By using only rot practices, they can manage but whenever a new event happens, they are not able to manage. Students who inherit such type of mentors cannot be blamed as they are not given the proper guidance.Blind leading another blind.

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