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Report reveals major failings at nurse regulator


The Nursing and Midwifery Council is failing to carry out its statutory functions according to standards expected by the public, says a report by the government's healthcare super-regulator.

Although the NMC is carrying out duties such as maintaining a register and protecting the public, the report by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE), says internal strife is hindering its ability to function.

Furthermore the CHRE said it had found evidence of bullying at the NMC during its investigation, although it said it had not found evidence of racism.

'We have seen and heard evidence of inappropriate and aggressive language by and between Council members and between Council members and the executive. We have also heard accounts of emotional and aggressive behaviour in meetings. This behaviour is undoubtedly experienced as threatening and bullying by many Council members and staff involved,' the report said.

The regulator raised concerns that nurses still have to wait two and half years on average for fitness to practise hearings to be concluded. It added that the NMC must introduce an IT-based case management system to help reduce waits.

The NMC should create a new governance structure, with an appointed council and president, instead of the current election system.

In future the NMC will have its judiciary function in fitness to practise cases taken away and transferred to the new Office of the Health Adjudicator, set up under the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently before Parliament.

CHRE chief executive Harry Cayton said: ‘We have serious concerns about the inadequate operation of the NMC’s fitness to practice processes, governance framework and lack of strategic leadership.’

The report was launched at the request of health minister Ben Bradshaw following an adjournment debate by Livingstone MP Jim Devine in the House of Commons in March. During the debate, MPs heard evidence that there was an ‘ingrained culture of bullying and racism’ at the NMC.

An NMC spokesperson said: 'We are acutely aware that there is still a big job to do at the NMC. We have already identified fitness to practise, better customer service and a modern IT infrastructure as areas for sustained attention and activity. We are confident that we can deliver the improvement that is necessary.'


Readers' comments (6)

  • It was with great concern that I read this article and made me wonder if the costly annual registration fee is justified.

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  • Does the NMC require more support from central government.

    I don't think so, leave nursing to the nurses pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee.

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  • Hmm. Looks like our £76 a year is being wasted then. I thought the whole idea of raising the registration fee and charging it annually was to improve the service offered by the nmc. What exactly do we get for our money?

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  • As a newly qualified nurse i have read this article with a certain amount of trepidation. All through my studies the power of the nmc has been reiterated,both as guide and support - if we can't depend on the nmc - supposedly understanding the heart of nursing - to whom do we turn for direction andsupport?

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  • Charlotte Peters Rock

    Don't worry nurses. The NMCstill keeps you safe.
    What it does not do is look after the interests of old ill and vulnerable patients, which I unfortunately know to my cost.

    My family has been fighting for more than four years having found absolute medical proof of what happened to my father, before he died - and which caused his death.

    Community Nursing Records were unrecognisable as the legal documents which they are supposed to be. The NMC is a joke.

    Unfortunately, the joke is also on you.

    Don't be upset. The GMC and the HC Commission share the joke.

    Bitter? No. Sadder, wiser and determined to follow through, in spite of superannuated suits and their refusal to act.

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  • The committes on fitness to practice, not only do not protect the public adequetly ,but also aid some private homes in disregarding the NMS 2000 set for care homes.They make unreasonbly complains on Nurses,in order to cover up their bad practices. The NMC competence committes are themselves incompetent in their jobs, as they threat Nurses as piece of paper not a profession.A nurse was struck off the register for five years, following allegation from a nursing home that the nurse left the home unattended without a qualified RMN, the nurse was refused representation as documents he sent via recorded delivery was claimed as not recieved. Documents before the three committees were not read before judgement was passed, as they were unable to pick up the contracditions in witness statement.a visit to the home would have also helped their judgement. IWeeks after a compilation of contradition statement was given to them , then the stricking order was revoked ( a dent in the Nurses CV). How protective are these committes of competence. Are they competent ?

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