There has been a focus on nurse revalidation in the last week following the conviction of Stepping Hill Hospital nurse Victorino Chua for murdering two patients and poisoning 19 others.
Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive Jackie Smith was asked by the media whether the introduction of revalidation in April 2016 will prevent another killer nurse from taking the lives of their patients.
Sadly, of course, she’s right when she says it won’t, and that no system of nurse regulation ever can.
The regulator has been more stringent about overseas applicants since Mr Chua entered the register in 2002. Applicants now have to show original documents instead of photocopies, and there is a face-to-face interview and a two-stage competence test.
However, Mr Chua did not kill because he was not a competent nurse, or because no one had checked his qualifications. Neither did he kill because of his nationality. For reasons only he can know, Mr Chua simply came to work with the intention to harm or kill.
”Mr Chua simply came to work with the intention to harm or kill’
Medical revalidation could not have prevented the GP and mass murderer Harold Shipman from killing his patients, so why should we expect nurse revalidation to be any different?
Revalidation is about checking nurses are maintaining and developing their competence. One disturbing consequence of Mr Chua’s conviction has been the focus on his nationality. When Andrew Hutchinson was charged with attacking patients in Oxford, no one suggested white Englishmen should not be allowed to nurse. After Beverly Allitt killed in Grantham, the media did not protest about the NHS continuing to recruit Lincolnshire nurses.
“There are thousands of highly qualified, competent and compassionate Filipinos working in the UK”
There are thousands of highly qualified, competent and compassionate Filipinos working in the UK as nurses and healthcare assistants, doing exemplary work to ensure their patients are well cared for. In fact, so short of homegrown nurses are we, that without them, the NHS and many other healthcare providers would not be able to care for their patients or residents.
What those patients do not need is to be whipped up into a frenzy or frightened of being cared for by anyone who does not have a British accent. The truth is that our hospitals are not full of murderers but of nurses dedicated to caring for their patients with dignity. You don’t have to be born in this country to care for those who are sick in it.
Jenni Middleton, editor
Follow me on Twitter: @nursingtimesed