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'Chance to modernise NMC was squandered'


As if there isn’t enough doom and gloom in nursing - care scandals, pay cuts leading to the first strike in over 30 years next week, cuts to services, workplace stress and the pressure of targets all join forces to make nurses feel undervalued and dejected.

And now another Nursing and Midwifery Council fee rise has just been confirmed (see page 2).

There is a real concern the fee rise could deter nurses close to retirement from continuing to stay on the register. Though the NMC predicts this won’t be the case, it has promised to keep an eye on it.

When most trusts are struggling to fill their nursing posts to provide safe care, and are having to scramble to recruit from abroad, this is a genuine concern for patients as well as the profession.

In February last year, the fee went up from £76 to £100, and from March next year, it will be £120. It’s not surprising registrants are reeling. It seems unfair because it is unfair. And however much the NMC justifies the rise by explaining the costly nature of its old-fashioned and time-consuming processes, which it is bound to by law, it doesn’t help nurses feel any less sore about forking out more money when the government is deciding to pay them less than ever.

Of course, had the government agreed to consider the Law Commission draft bill on healthcare regulation in the present parliament, we would probably have seen a slicker and more efficient process of regulation emerge from NMC towers. Instead, it continues to have a clunky, labour-intensive and expensive set of fitness to practise cases that absorb most of the fees.

The government ordered a strategic review of the NMC after the Francis report was published, but it criticised and then fled from the scene, without helping to find the solution. It could have eased the load on nurses by agreeing to consider the Law Commission’s draft bill, which would have modernised the costly way fitness to practise cases are carried out, and eased the burden on healthcare regulators by enabling them to share certain functions. But it didn’t.

If you read the list of bills this parliament is considering in its last year in office you get a good indication of where nurses come in the government’s pecking order. Somewhere below cats and wild animals in circuses. I am an animal lover, but I also know that nurses need support. If this government wants to keep them - and their votes - they should have made a priority of ensuring they stay motivated - in fact made a priority of ensuring they stay at all.

Jenni Middleton, editor

Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (5)

  • One strongly suspects a lack of interest from the government to ensure decent healthcare for ordinary people; and even a determined, systematic neglect of vulnerable people.
    Plenty of investigations and other jobs for the boys but fundamentally lacking in real action.

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  • David Dickinson

    I have to post this even at the risk of being struck off. I complained about a trusts abuses in 2011 (largely seclusion malpractices) that forced two internal inquiries including a "Seclusion Review" that concluded nothing wrong with trust practices. I was immediately fired on the claim that I accessed victims computer file for " too long". Trust referred me to NMC as it does all staff leaving or fired who might criticize it. NMC apparently hears if not welcomes all referrals. External independent solicitor sent back to my trust employment file and spent a year writing a new prosecution case that created new charges 1. I wrote a complaint report on my home computer (although encrypted). 2. I identified a severely learning disabled victim of abuse without their permission. Even the original charges brought by the trust that were necessarily dropped at the time were reproduced and I was found guilty of them. The NMC concluded that I hadn't followed trust procedures and policies but had simply made a lot of noise. I wrote hundreds of pages of complaint reports including a including two 50+ page reports and a 64 page letter to the trust chairman. Last July the CQC failed the trust on two major issues ie patient safety against potential abuse particularly seclusion. I represented myslf when the RCN told me to be quiet ie. behind a QC who would also have also cost a fortune. The NMC found me guilty of breaching the one patients confidentiality by identifying them, using my home computer and "accessing" other patients computer files some of which I was entitled to do and some of which were seconds and merely revealed the weakness of the system which afterwards had a "traffic lights" accidental accessing feature put on . The only breach I can see is when I questioned the trusts chairman and CEO directly (I insisted on their presence) at my appeal against dismissal and he revealed that the chairman had passed to him my private and confidential 64 page letter. Trust managers lied under NMC oath which I proved and the NMC described them as open and straightforward. I am sentenced to three years of arduous conditional practice conditions and the impossibility of a full time career contract ..possibly forever given application form NMC question requirements. The hearing was hostile interrupting my attempts to press managers for answers. I am not broken but am aware of others and organisations working tirelessly like PatientsFirst and my case was one of over 70 heard by Robert Francis QC. The NMC must have spent £1000s and £1000s and £1000s prosecuting me. They revisit everything not just the issue that fired you. All their hearing rooms were full and I think there are over 30 going on simultaneously at any one time. I will always complain about abuse and I am not submitting this anonymously.

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  • David Dickinson

    dikod=David Dickinson

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  • The NMC does have lots of cases referred inappropriately. What they should do is establish a minimum standard that a complaint should reach before it is considered by an NMC panel. That might save a lot of time and money.

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  • Maryam Omitogun

    Professionals Tax Refund Fees Should be automatic/done by the Bodies?

    I will like to comment on the Tax Refund on Professional Fees/Subscription. Can all Nursing/Midwifery /Public health Bodies sent the names of all Professionals that are registered with bodies to the HMRC Government Office when the time due to receive the Refund. I think this should be automatic/done by the Bodies.

    Some Nurses/ Public Health Professionals are so busy that they don't remember to request for their tax return on their subscription monthly / yearly payment of fees.

    Since the bodies have the evidences of those that are regular with their renewal of registration/subscription, this should be done by the NMC/RCN and other Public Health Professional bodies thus making the tax refund to be easy for all Nursing/Midwives professionals.

    Many Professionals have forfeited many years of Tax Refund.Names should be collected in batch by the bodies and send to the TAX OFFICE for refund.

    Maryam Dolapo Omitogun (Nursing/Public Health Professional)

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