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Nurse and doctor standards should be ‘linked more closely’ says NMC chief


More should be done to ensure nurses, midwives, doctors and health professionals can share common training and codes of practice to bring their values and behaviours into line with one another, according to the chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The NMC attended a meeting this week, organised by the Department of Health, which brought together regulators, employers, unions and other bodies interested in healthcare regulation reform.

Following the meeting, NMC chief executive Jackie Smith told Nursing Times there was much more the General Medical Council, the NMC and other regulators could do to ensure public protection by working more closely together.

“The public expects that doctors, midwives and nurses are all trained together. They expect that and wonder why it isn’t happening”

Jackie Smith

“I think we could set standards across these professional groups,” she said, adding: “And the public expects that doctors, midwives and nurses are all trained together. They expect that and wonder why it isn’t happening.”

She said recent reviews of doctors’ and nurses’ training – the 2013 Shape of Training review of postgraduate medical training and 2015’s Shape of Caring review of nursing education – both agreed this needed to be achieved.

“That’s what the Shape of Training says about medical training, and it’s what the Shape of Caring Review for nursing is trying to get at,” said Ms Smith.

She said the NMC would continue discussions with the royal medical colleges, the GMC, the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives to explore how “we get to a place where we continue standard setting and get to a place where students in professional groups work together”.

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

This was the way regulators could ensure “we get the right people on the registers in the first place”, she said.

Meanwhile she dismissed rumours about the desire to merge some or all of the nine healthcare regulators to create a “super regulator”.

“There is no point doing that until we’ve discussed the purpose of regulation,” she said.

She said that the further four meetings planned with the DH would address this issue.

“We need to discuss what the purpose of regulation is and how we are meeting expectations. Is it to punish individuals, remove dangerous individuals from the register – in which case give us the tools to do that properly - or is it to improve care by carrying out remediation and support of professionals?

“We are not thinking of putting forward a proposal to merge the regulators, and won’t do. We shouldn’t leap to that conclusion until we understand what we want the regulators to do,” she said.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Jackie Smith is having a lot to say for herself all of a sudden. Whats up? Is her job at risk or are people going to fine out that the NMC are a waste of time, not fit for purpose and should be dissolved. A new unit that actually does protect the public and cares for the nurses who pay their fees should be set up by the government.
    Very few staff actually trust Jackie Smith who is not a nurse, she is a lawyer pretending she knows & cares about nurses

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  • michael stone

    “I think we could set standards across these professional groups,” she said, adding: “And the public expects that doctors, midwives and nurses are all trained together. They expect that and wonder why it isn’t happening.”'

    'So my ethics, appear to be different from the ‘ethics’ of 999 paramedics, police officers, etc'

    The public, I think, can reasonably expect that the professionals do seem to be behaving in a consistent and joined-up way, which isn't necessarily true at the moment. The LACDP group suggested that for end-of-life, everyone should be guided by a GMC publication: I did ask 'why should everyone be guided by a GMC document ?'. But getting everyone to behave in a joined-up fashion, is somewhere between very difficult and impossible, so far as I can see !

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  • If standards of professional conduct are the same then a single regulator makes sense. Preferably one that is functional and does not cost a fortune. The costs of misconduct cases should be bourn by those found guilty (or their insurers), not those who practise well.

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  • milton pena

    Nurses, midwives, doctors and other 'team' members have been undergoing combined training - to improve outcomes and patient safety - in the NHS for many years. This is good.
    The professional regulatory bodies have been busy up-dating their regulations, for instance encouraging health workers to report unsafe working conditions.[for patients and staff].
    The main cause of poor and occasionally catastrophic outcome is lack of resources: Human [nurses, doctors] and material [beds, essential equipment] etc. This is compounded by the - obviously - contradictory role in the functions of MONITOR and CQC. The former penalises Trusts that put the wellbeing of patients before finances.
    - article

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  • Medicine and nursing are both healthcare specialties but they have complimentary focus. These different specialties simply need awareness of the others focus to eliminate care silos and promote synergy, but it is a waste of time and money to try to otherwise wholly blend these professions which have existed and functioned uniquely for hundreds of years! However, If the goal is to change training to include a unified goal of conduct then indeed this should be enforced by a single regulator; to prevent further silos. There is a link between multiple regulators and siloed behaviour.
    The US has developed a strong, LIVING link between medicine and nursing. We are called nurse practitioners. Every day we provide superior patient care in homes, nursing homes and underserved areas. Some of us also have city clinics which provide convenient access for acute or self care (eg weight loss) issues and sports physicals. The UK does not need to developed a more homogenous healthcare system. Instead challenges require a 'divide and conquer' approach! To better meet the challenges of struggling NHS and an aging and increasingly morbid society, the UK should expand variety! And, from a more personal perspective, I think that Ms Smith could better use her time by developing a more efficient and effective MMC.

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