The chief executive of the nursing regulator has said fitness to practise referrals are expected to increase in number after revalidation is introduced in April, but that in the long term it is hoped they will reduce.
Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive Jackie Smith said that in the initial stages of the new system of competency checks, referrals to the regulator were expected to go up as registrants were encouraged to reflect on their own and others’ practice.
But, she said, over time revalidation would likely result in organisations dealing with more concerns locally, meaning less are escalated to the regulator.
However, Ms Smith stressed the revalidation process – which nurses will need to complete every three years in order to stay on the register and continue to practise – was not designed to create a new way to raise concerns.
”We always said our long-term ambition and aspiration is that we’d like to see a reduction in the number of fitness to practise referrals”
Speaking at Nursing Times’ revalidation conference today in London, she said: “We always said our long-term ambition and aspiration is that we’d like to see a reduction in the number of fitness to practise referrals.
“Because, if this works in the way we’ve articulated it, you’ve got the regulator, individual registrant and employer all working together in the interests of professionalism and public protection – so issues are identified early enough and dealt with locally rather than coming to the NMC.
“But I think the reality of the position is we will see an increase initially, because when you are faced with the prospect of thinking about someone’s revalidation then it makes you think about their practice in the round. And, although revalidation is not about fitness to practise, it will make individuals think about it,” she added.
“Although revalidation is not about fitness to practise, it will make individuals think about it”
Ms Smith was asked whether the NMC would be “tougher” on the first cohort of registrants going through the process in April, when the regulator would be sampling some nurses’ portfolios for verification.
She said the NMC “did not intend to be tough on anybody” and that it would “have an even hand across the board”.
“There will be problems initially and we want to work those through. We aren’t marking a pass or fail. We are not expecting people to write a dissertation in their reflective accounts,” she added.