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NMC improving slowly, audit finds


The Nursing and Midwifery Council is starting to make improvements but continues to have “areas of significant weaknesses” in its handling of fitness to practice cases, an audit has found.

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence noted there had been “some evidence of improvement in the quality and efficiency of the NMC’s fitness to practise process” in the past year.

In particular, improvements in identifying and prioritising serious cases were being made.

But the CHRE remained “concerned about the extent of the weaknesses…identified…some of which occurred relatively recently”.

These included delays in referring cases for interim orders and in informing registrants of the outcome of these referrals, inconsistencies in record-keeping, inadequate risk assessment, insufficient information gathering and poor customer service.

The CHRE expects the NMC to consider improving the timeliness of the information that it provides to complainants and improving the “robustness” of its approach to information gathering and analysis.

It also says the regulator should implement checks to ensure the consistency of risk assessments, record keeping and complaint handling.

It should ensure staff are appropriately tailoring standard letters to the circumstances

NMC chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes said he was “pleased” the CHRE had acknowledged the “considerable improvements that we have made in identifying and prioritising serious [fitness to practice] cases as these processes are inextricably linked to public protection”.

“We are already working to address many of the issues identified in the audit report,” he added.

It was “a little discouraging that the audit over-emphasises weaknesses that we are already dealing with” but the NMC will “take steps to tackle the points raised”, he said.

Changes to the regulator’s legal framework being discussed with the Department of Health would help to speed up its processes, he said.


Readers' comments (8)

  • Bull. The NMC is unfit for purpose and needs scrapping. It has been slated time and time again by the CHRE and others, and does not have the confidence of many of the Nurses it is supposed to regulate. Token gestures of 'improvement' on their part are an insulting joke.

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  • Agreed Mike. They deliberately set practice against academic staff, are not transparent and have set up a culture of fear in the profession. they are just about to increase the fees too. The CHRE have had their budget cut and will be expecting regulators to pay a levy each year.
    In response to the CHRE levy to be imposed on next year a NMC meeting earlier this year (Item 13 NMC/11/79 September 2011) under Resource implications item 15 states that
    ‘Our understanding is that the Government does not expect the CHRE levy to
    be used to justify any fee increase and that regulatory bodies will be expected to
    meet their individual contribution without passing the cost onto their registrants.
    The NMC contribution to fund the CHRE levy will impact on the ability to undertake
    existing work streams’ .

    Yet the minutes of the meeting for the 27th October state (Minute 13.3)
    'Nevertheless, Council recognised that it was unlikely the situation would change and that it was inevitable that the levy would come into effect and would thus necessitate an increase in registration fees. It was suggested that nurses and midwives should be made aware of what proportion of their fees would be allocated to CHRE costs. Further, it was suggested that nurses and midwives should be made aware that they would be bearing 33 percent of the costs required by CHRE to oversee the regulation of all health and social care workers'.

    So they are wanting to tell us how unfair this is on us and how we should not be subsidising other healthcare workers. They shouldn’t be passing this on to registrants at all!

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  • Sickening. Just sickening.

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  • why is there a need for NMC members to subsidize regulation of other health care workers? Who is subsidizing us? and by the way what are these registration fees actually for apart from paying admin. staff to enter and re-enter our names on a register each year and for the odd investigation of nurses who have not upheld the code of professional practice? I guess the fees are also used to maintain the costly London office as well which most of us have never even seen.

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  • In defense of the NMC (most unlike me as you will see above Anonymous | 10-Nov-2011 12:06 pm) their London building is rented at a nominal fee of £2 a year on a 100 year lease). I can't believe no one has challenged the NMC on passing the fees on to registrants? NT would you do a feature on this?

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  • well, I hope the NMC are more helpful and welcoming and encouraging to new nurses entering the register than they are to those leaving it for 'deserved' retirement after a lifelong career in nursing which in case they need reminding, involves caring for others! All I got was reminders to renew my registration after I had written to them to inform them and aggressive warnings about lapse of membership, failure to pay their fees and fraudulent practice. Although I appreciate there are cases of fraud and malpractice from which the public must be protected at all costs, honest, sincere and hard working nurses must make up the vast majority on the register, I find their assumptions that all nurses are potential criminals and the tone of their correspondence cold, uncaring, discriminatory and offensive and some of these letters, which are presumably standard are signed in the name of the CEO - Dickon Weir-Huges.

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  • simon green

    well in response to the last post Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes is no more......thank heavens.
    He should be held to account regarding his "consultant in men's health" job in a well to do Wimpole st private clinic (nice little earner) which he fails to mention in any of his online professional profiles.
    I wonder precisely what expertise he possesses as an RN academic with minimal (if any) recent clinical experience????
    I think NT editors should send a reporter to investigate

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  • the Prof is still on the NMC Register as an RN and no additional qualifications are entered.

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