Jackie Smith has today announced her decision to step down as chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, after over six years in the role.
Ms Smith will leave her post at the end of July 2018 but is not currently thought to be moving to another role.
“Jackie has made an immense contribution to the NMC”
Under her leadership at the NMC, the regulator has introduced revalidation and recently overhauled nurse education standards.
It is also in the process of overseeing the introduction of the new nursing associate role and updating legislation on fitness to practise cases.
Speaking on her decision, Ms Smith said: “It’s been an honour to lead the NMC over the past six years and I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved.
“Now is the right time for someone else to take the organisation forward,” she said. “I want to pay tribute to the staff at the NMC who have worked so hard and achieved so much during my time here.
“I’d also like to thank the nurses and midwives on our register– it’s been a privilege to work with them and witness the fantastic care they deliver day in day out,” she added.
Ms Smith told Nursing Times that she was ”really proud” of what the NMC had achieved during her tenure.
”When I took over in 2012, we were failing on every level. Now, we have fixed so much of the organisation, and are considered successful in all but one of the standards by the Professional Standards Authority,” she said.
“We have introduced revalidation to huge success, met our fitness to practise targets, introduced future nurse standards and have ensured that we can put nursing associates on the register from February,” she said. “The organisation is in a great place.”
“She has led the regulator with conviction through a period of positive change”
NMC chair Philip Graf said: “Jackie has made an immense contribution to the NMC and I will be very sorry to see her leave.
“Public protection has always been at the heart everything Jackie has done and she can take great credit for transforming the organisation into the high performing regulator it is today.”
The recruitment of a new chief executive and registrar will begin in “due course”, said the regulator in a statement.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Jackie has been a powerful advocate for nursing and she has worked tirelessly to make sure the UK’s workforce upholds the very highest standards.
“She has led the regulator with conviction through a period of positive change and, on behalf of all nursing staff, I pay tribute to her for that,” she said.
The Professional Standards Authority, which oversees the work of professional regulators including the NMC and the General Medical Council, said: “Jackie Smith has worked tirelessly to improve the NMC’s performance, as our annual reviews show.
“We respect her dedication and commitment,” the authority said in a short statement responding to the news of her resignation.
The Professional Standards Authority is set to publish on Wednesday the findings from its “lessons learned” review into the NMC’s handling of the Morecambe Bay fitness to practise cases, in the wake of the high profile baby and maternal deaths that took place there.
There have been some criticisms of the NMC by the families of the children, but Ms Smith and the NMC deny her resignation is connected to the publication of this report.
Ms Smith was appointed the NMC’s chief executive and registrar in October 2012, having been acting in the joint role from December 2011. She first joined the NMC as the director of fitness to practise in August 2010.
Her background is in law and she spent many years working for the Crown Prosecution Service at the Old Bailey and in the Director of Public Prosecutions Office.
She also previously worked for the General Medical Council for over 10 years as an assistant director and heading up the medical regulator’s investigation unit for six years.