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Part three of the register a 'shambles'


The head of the Nursing and Midwifery Council has admitted the third part of its register, covering specialist community public health nurses, is a “shambles” and in need of reform.

NMC chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes yesterday announced a review of entry requirements to the SCPHN register in a speech to the Unite Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association conference.

The register was created in 2004 in recognition of the distinct characteristics of community nursing. It was felt that the fact that nurses working in the community sometimes take decisions on behalf of the whole local population meant a greater degree of public protection was required.

In addition to health visitors and school nurses, part three also includes occupational health nurses and sexual health advisers.

Professor Weir-Hughes, who joined the NMC in 2009, told delegates he did not understand why certain professions had been included on the register when others were not. He suggested occupational health nurses, for example, saw themselves more as nurses rather than SCPHNs.

He said: “There was a lot of lobbying to include certain roles [on the register]. There are roles inside and roles outside and it doesn’t make any sense… I know it’s a bit of a shambles.”

However, he said the NMC’s view was that health visiting should remain a post-registration qualification “for now”, but said there was a debate to be had. The Royal College of Nursing and others had expressed concern that the drive to increase the number of health visitors by 4,200 could lead to a “dumbing down” of the profession.

Professor Weir-Hughes added: “This term ‘specialist’, which is always very contentious - we need to tease out what we mean by that because there are lots of people regulated by the NMC who would regard themselves as specialists but are not on the register.”

The NMC wants to hear registrants’ views on the register and plans to review evidence between now and the end of the year before developing and consulting on proposals between January and March 2012. The regulator hopes to publish final plans by the end of next year.


Readers' comments (10)

  • Your entire organisation is a bloody shambles Weir Hughes!!

    It doesn't need a debate! It needs entirely scrapping and replacing!

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  • Another nail in the NMC's coffin - hopefully.

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  • It has always been difficult to engage the hospital and institutional nurses whose core business is illness and treatment into a discussion about the bigger picture of health and prevention of ill health. This has also influenced the funding of community services where even the illness services in the community fare badly compared to the acute hospitals. In my experience the preventive services have been eroded over many years now. This is not helped by the targets set for the C/E's to achieve and get their bonuses. The data that is collected does not help, much of the work that is done in the preventive field is invisible and what is not or cannot be counted within a short space of time is not funded.
    The NMC has lacked the community input at the top for some time and this is showing. The NMC was described as a failing organisation some years ago. The NMC needs to get it's act together and have some leadership that is aware of the broader picture and the part that nurses on all parts of the register have in achieving health for all.
    If we loose the NMC and our self regulation and registration of nurses it reduces us from professional people to employees in the occupation of nursing. We fought hard to gain recognition at this level. We need to be carefull not to throw it away.
    This comment is made anonymously as I have observed that some responses on this blog in the past have been unpleasant and personal.

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  • Anonymous | 21-Oct-2011 12:47 pm I see what you are saying about preventative health, but I don't wholly agree this is down to 'hospital or institutional Nurses' being difficult to discuss it with. As a Hospital Nurse, I wholly agree that the bigger picture of health, exercise, etc is not focused on enough and wholly underfunded. This however is completely down to the mismanagement by trust execs, the government, and the economic business model they impose on us. I would LOVE for much more focus on the wider picture, but I just do not see it happening with the people we have in charge at the moment.

    The NMC however is completely unfit for purpose, not just on this one issue. But who says that getting rid of it would reduce us to simple employees? We could easily replace it with a new regulatory system that is much more effective and efficient, much more conducive to our needs as a profession, and infinitely more beneficial to us? What do you think?

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  • michael stone

    mike | 21-Oct-2011 10:12 am

    Be more forthright.

    Anonymous | 21-Oct-2011 12:47 pm

    Very informative, and well-argued, comments. And I suspect this is very true:

    'The data that is collected does not help, much of the work that is done in the preventive field is invisible and what is not or cannot be counted within a short space of time is not funded'

    There are definitely some unpleasant comments made on the NT 'site, as you have observed !

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  • If registering health professionals is such “a shambles” can you imagine how shambolic the registering of HCA’s would be?

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  • Anonymous | 21-Oct-2011 5:34 pm but it wouldn't, or shouldn't be the NMC who registers HCA's, it is the NURSING and MIDWIFERY council.

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  • As a CPN I was told initially I was - then I wasn't - was - wasn't...

    Doesn't make any sense when your title is COMMUNITY Psychiatric Nurse and you spent a Year at Uni getting the diploma saying you were one...

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  • Anonymous | 22-Oct-2011 8:33 pm I agree, very nonsensical indeed.

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  • Totally agree that part 3 is surrounded by red tape and in the whole unnecessary.... controversal maybe.

    Also it is freshing to see someone tell the truth, it is a shambles, so well said.

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