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'Empty promises from the NMC will not suffice'


The Nursing and Midwifery Council has failed the public and failed registrants and is deeply sorry.

That was the admission when the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence revealed the findings of its investigation into the troubled nursing regulator.

But sorry really isn’t good enough for those nurses who are now going to have to reach deep into their pockets to find another £44 a year to foot the bill for the NMC’s financial mistakes.

Does sorry really cut it when the CHRE report is finding fault in every nook and cranny of the NMC’s organisation? When poor leadership and bad governance, inadequate decision making, a “creaky” IT system that isn’t fit for purpose and a staff culture of “resigned resilience” exists? Is it enough to promise to make changes and expect people to believe it will happen? This is, after all, the latest in a series of negative reports about the regulator since its creation.

It seems reasonable to assume that had the regulator made slow and steady increases in the fee instead of being too afraid to raise the price for years, and had it spent the surpluses it had built up on fitness to practise, it would not be in this situation.

With a pretty hefty charge sheet levied at the NMC by the CHRE, you can understand why nurses are questioning whether those who live in glass houses should really be throwing stones.

Apparently, consultations with chief nursing officers, the royal colleges of nursing and midwifery, the unions, individual nurses and other stakeholders, all revealed a desire to maintain an independent nursing regulator. This was found to be non-negotiable.

Their hopes are all pinned on finding a new chair and a new chief executive. Finding them, it seems, is the Holy Grail.

It’s true – a change at the helm, albeit temporarily, has ushered in a more practical approach. Interim chief executive Jackie Smith and acting chair Judith Ellis, who is also performing her day job of executive dean at London South Bank University, have made a good start in getting to the heart of the problem and excavating the financial difficulties. But it’s going to take more than just a personnel change to convince nurses that the NMC has laid to rest its demons.

Where the NMC goes from here is key. Will the report mark a positive turning point or be seen as another nail in its coffin? 

The Department of Health must monitor this organisation until the faith of nurses and the public is restored. Someone needs to ensure it is clear about its goals and is delivering its regulatory function effectively and to budget.

Promises are not enough.


Readers' comments (19)

  • michael stone

    'Promises are not enough.'

    No, they are not.

    Neither is this statement, so often fed to the public after a serious mistake by an organisation, without some proof to back it up:

    'Lessons have been learnt, and we have addressed this issue'.

    You need to clearly be shown, the 'how' bit ! As in 'Exactly HOW have you addressed it ?'.

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  • please may we have the reference to a written copy of this apology from the NMC for all its shortcomings and how they intend to move forward and make amends. and this before anybody pays the new hike in fees.

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  • Won't hold my breathe.

    Whilst that old chesnut 'lessons will be learnt' nonsense might happen is possible, suffocation is highly likely on my part.

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  • so, we have to pay extra, we dont get a choice

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  • Anonymous | 12-Jul-2012 1:32 am

    looks that way.

    I have a few suggestion to the NMC:
    -Like i said before move to cheaper premisise
    - reduce pay of the chief exes

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  • NMC wake up - the party is over!! Nurses - just don't pay them any more money, they are not worth what they are getting at the moment, let alone have the brass neck to ask for more. Their attitude is unbelievable. With people like this representing us we are going nowhere fast!! Can't believe anyone is even contemplating paying the increase.

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  • This organisation should be shut down and a new regulatory body be instituted from scratch, staffed by nurses for nurses. The GMC seems to work for the doctors, so why does our regulation prove so problematical, or is it that nurses do not have the respect from the powers that be commensurate with doctors?

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  • the NMC is clearly not fit for purpose but it expects nurses to continue to fund it and its mistakes by increasing the cost of remaining on the register-I don't think so.
    Like many organisations today it exists only to keep it's highly paid staff in the manner to which they have become accustomed to.
    There appears to be no concern for nurses or patients within the organisation.
    They should be treated in the same way as the niurse who they find is not competent.

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  • It was obvious,things were happening at the NMC,all the big knobs at the top were walking!! So much we don't know, whats going on? and do we care???? Fee up,service down!!

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  • has anybody been appointed at the top yet?

    if not why is it taking so long?

    why don't they wait to make any big decisions like fees until somebody is managing the organisation and knows what they are supposed to be doing in providing service to the public and to the nursing profession?

    somebody with vision and mission and who is capable of setting target, reaching goals and evaluating the outcomes to put in ( ? meaningful/meaningless ? ) management parlance!

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