Senior nurses who sit on the boards of NHS hospitals will have to undergo a “fit and proper” person test from April 2014 next year, it has emerged.
Ministers also plan to make it easier to prosecute NHS organisations and their directors for care failings, with unlimited fines as punishment.
The test, which will be taken by all NHS executive and non-executive directors, is a key part of the government’s response to the Francis report into failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
Care home managers will also face the test, as it applies to any organisation regulated by the Care Quality Commission, including private providers and social care organisations.
However, it will not be applied to senior nurses at NHS England or those appointed to the governing bodies of clinical commissioning groups, as these are not regulated by the CQC.
A Department of Health consultation document on the plans suggests failing the test may not automatically bring a career in the NHS to an end.
It states: “An individual would not be deemed to be universally unfit and while unfit in one role may be fit in another.”
The test will seek to identify any concerns about an individual’s background and examine their honesty, integrity, competence and capability as well as their previous history as a director.
Where there are cases of poor care linked to governance problems, the CQC will also be given the power to judge whether directors still meet the test and could insist on their removal.
The consultation document also reveals plans for the government to introduce primary legislation to bring in a “blacklist” or barring scheme for “all senior NHS managers”.
Health minister Norman Lamb said it was important that the CQC had the power to bring prosecutions against failing organisations.
He said: “Scandals like Winterbourne View and Mid Staffs have damaged confidence in our health and care system.
“Part of our commitment to rebuilding that trust comes from making sure that people at all levels are held to account for failings when they occur,” Mr Lamb added.
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