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NT talks to RCN policy advisor Jane Naish on latest health legislation

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A three-minute interview with RCN policy advisor Jane Naish on the Health and Social Care Bill

Do you believe the merger of the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission?

We’ve not opposed the merger but there’s a caution about funding and quality and how the organisation will maintain the standards that the Healthcare Commission have achieved.

It does bring social care and health care together which is a good thing from the patient’s point of view. But it’s such a huge area for one regulator.

The bill introduces will introduce a civil rather than a criminal standard of proof in NMC fitness to practise hearings. Do you have concerns about the lowering the standard of proof?

Our position is one of caution. It’s a question of balance because its about patient’s rights to care and nursing care and an appropriate standard of nursing care versus the nurses livelihood, which will be put at risk. What we’re saying is we’re cautious. You can’t take away someone’s livelihood on the basis of this we want more detail.

The NMC has said it will use a sliding scale so that more serious cases still require a higher standard of proof than less serious ones – will that help do you think?

We really need to see more detail on this. The problem could be that we’ll have lawyers arguing that we should be using one particular end of the scale and the NMC might argue another one.

Is it likely to result in more NMC fitness to practise hearings?

It could. I think the NMC is looking at how many extra cases this might mean if the standard of proof is lowered.

The bill introduces a mandatory sharing of information between ‘designated’ bodies if there are concerns about a nurses’ practice. This is something the RCN raised concerns about in its briefing to MPs – why is that?

We have real concerns about the transparency of this and how it will operate. You’re moving to a situation where the bodies swapping information that may not be accurate. The information that is passed on may be based on a complaint or comment that is very spurious and that in effect it could be legitimising black listing. If there are serious concerns about a nurse there is a system to deal with that - they have to be reported to the NMC.

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