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Government orders review of NMC


It has been confirmed that the Nursing and Midwifery Council is to undergo a strategic review due to its failure to deal with a long standing backlog of fitness to practise cases.

The government has asked the Council for Regulatory Excellence to undertake the investigation “with a view to further strengthening the NMC’s leadership and governance”.

It follows the resignation of senior nursing figures at the regulator including chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes and director of standards and registration Roger Thompson.

As revealed by, professor Weir-Hughes announced his resignation with immediate effect on 12 January, while Mr Thompson left on 2 December.

The review was announced today in a written ministerial statement in Parliament. The CHRE will announce the full terms of the review in due course. It will report to ministers with its findings by early summer.

The parliamentary statement said the Department of Health also planned to hold a public consultation on reconstituting the NMC’s council to reduce its size, in line with a recommendation by the CHRE. It said: “The department believes that this option now warrants consideration for the NMC.”

The statement also referred back to a House of Commons debate held in March 2008 – first revealed by Nursing Times – in which significant concerns had been raised about the regulator’s performance and allegations made of bullying and racism within the organisation.

A subsequent investigation and report from the CHRE concluded that the NMC was performing its statutory duties but not to the standard the public had the right to expect. As a result of the findings the regulator published an action plan and a new ruling council was appointed independently in January 2009, followed shortly by a new chair and chief executive.

The parliamentary statement said: “Subsequent reports by the CHRE have found some areas in which the NMC is improving. Regrettably, however, their most recent report on fitness to practise, published in November 2011, shows that the rate of improvement in this area falls below the standard that the public and registrants have the right to respect.

“The review will look at the NMC’s organisational structure, resource allocation and operational management. It will establish what further action is needed to ensure that the NMC is effectively carrying out its statutory duties to promote high standards of conduct and practice in order to protect the public.”

In a separate statement today, the NMC said it welcomed the strategic review of its role and operations as “an important opportunity to achieve clarity and consistency in the delivery of its regulatory functions”.

NMC chair Tony Hazell said: “The NMC has made significant improvements in the last few years, particularly in the handling of fitness to practise referrals. At the same time we recognise the importance of maintaining our commitment to the effective and efficient delivery of all our core regulatory functions. In doing so we continue to focus on our primary objective, that of safeguarding the health and well being of patients and the wider public.

“Recent events have presented council with an opportunity to review our activities to ensure that we can continue our progress towards becoming a more efficient and effective regulator. Earlier this month I wrote to the CHRE to ask them to assist us with this review, and I am pleased that they agreed to work collaboratively with us on this important project,” professor Hazell said.

“It is in this context that we now welcome this ministerial announcement of a strategic review and the impartiality that external colleagues will bring in scrutinising what we do, how we do it and in some cases, why we do it. An internal review of our activities has been underway for some time, and has already prompted some important questions about the wide ranging nature of some of our work streams and the contribution that they make to our core business. We look forward to continuing these discussions with the review team,” he added.

“A key outcome from this review is that it must be demonstrably clear to all concerned that the NMC’s priority is public protection.”


Readers' comments (10)

  • tinkerbell

    Yes, good. And whilst they're at it could the government order a review of itself, and a review of the review on their expense claims fiddling to see if this has truly been resolved. And a review on selling arms to unscrupulous arms dealers. Also a review of their own moral bankruptcy in destroying OUR NHS. I hope the review by the hypocritical reviewers reveals just how much 'they're all at it'. Good luck with that one though eh.

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  • The NMC is a failed institution: it needs to be wound up. I have to renew my registration in March and I really struggle to understand what my £76 each year goes on other than a paper card with my NMC number on and two low-rent magazines each year.

    I really believe that now is the time with all of this multidisciplinary working that there is one regulator for all PAMS (or whatever you want to be called). One body that regulates all of us as I’m sure that what is expected in terms of professional conduct of a nurse, is the same as what is expected of a Physio, an OT a Radiographer etc., etc. One large body will reduce the overhead costs and those savings could be passed onto registrants.

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  • To Anonymous | 26-Jan-2012 1:20 pm

    The NMC is not there to help nurses, its a regulatory body to protect the public from the actions of nurses.

    And I absolutely disagree with the idea of nurses being included in the Health Council body along with everyone else, that would be yet more watering down of the nursing profession. Though I do predict, that the review will suggest this as a course of action - be warned.

    For one thing, I don't hear doctors suggesting that they join with everyone else - they have a clear identity and retain a seperate body witha clear voice that is heard in parliament.

    Secondly, nursing is a profession with a long history. I would like us to have a strong regulatory body that has a clear voice heard across the country, promoting the value of nurses, as well as regulating their actions.

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  • tinkerbell

    Ellen Nicholson | 26-Jan-2012 2:20 pm

    We are being so watered down we will soon be a homeopathic remedy:)

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  • I agree with Ellen's comments on the role of the profession as an independent voice,(26/01/2012) and that we need a strong regulatory body to protect nurses and the public.

    Nursing is very politicised sadly and I sometimes think that we lose sight of it's humanitarian and apolitical role historically and internationally.

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  • Anonymous | 28-Jan-2012 4:18 pm

    Strangely enough, I don't think that nursing is politicised enough.

    We are the single biggest workforce within the NHS, yet we accept job cuts (stifling our ability to just do our job), pay freezes, attacks on our pensions and the horrific (for it is nothing less) effect this has on our patients. Do we rise up together and scream 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.WE WON'T TOLERATE THIS!'? It would appear not. We mutter and shift about uncomfortably, but essentially we behave like carpets and allow all and sundry to walk over us. All watched over by an organisation which is not fit for purpose. Plus ca change......

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  • 30th January 2012 10:24pm.

    Not sure that political power in excess is good for any profession. We need to be certain that one doesn't conflict with the other to any great extent.
    You are talking about a powerful politically militant workforce
    which may or may not be good for professional standards. Political affiliation should never be used to excuse poor
    standards of care. Nurses should be able to acknowledge failings and not be so quick to blame the government of the day who are not able to make informed judgements about a profession or it's standards so well.
    Patients and the public will always demand more of their nursing staff on a busy ward than time will always permit . That is the nature of nursing surely. Interpersonal skills and good communication are useful some times and you might even find the public more sympathetic and understanding and even helpful in supporting the causes of nursing & nurses.
    I have never known any ward sister that I trained under willing to be walked over by anyone on the contrary...!! they demonstrated professional power wisely on most occassions.

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  • Anonymous | 1-Feb-2012 4:34 pm

    Interestingly, I didn't mention anything that could be interpreted as 'militant' or excessive. I did not suggest that there should be "Political affiliation" within our profession. Neither did I, ".....blame the government of the day who are not able to make informed judgements about a profession or it's standards so well." (but I would, with more time, be happy to tear to shreds such a silly statement!)

    Why do people get so confused when the art and science of governance is being discussed?

    It is lazy-minded and, of course, codswallop to suggest that behaving in a professional manner and striving to improve the lot of a nurse are mutually exclusive. I happen to think that our patients will be better served by staff who are valued and able care for them properly.

    And as for, "Patients and the public will always demand more of their nursing staff on a busy ward than time will always permit . That is the nature of nursing surely." Really? Oh dear. You really are in a muddle.

    Parting point.....Ward Managers have very little say in anything that goes on in their wards these days. But you probably hadn't noticed that.

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  • what a mess, innocent staff (reported to the NMC on false charges as punishment / retribution) and patients still left at risk - and what a waste of our money as NMC registrants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Between the NMC, CQC and DoH (to name but a few of the miscreants), and with the several changes in employment law making it easier for employers to sack / mistreat employees who blow the whistle or who do not tow the in this country is doomed - unsafe and negligent care will always be covered up or the (now very boring phrase) "we have made changes, improved, learned lessons" (how vague are they, and the public / media never ask for direct evidence!) will be deployed.

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  • As a nurse who is going through a harrowing experience at an nmc hearing, I must say that, the whole process has very nearly brought me to a complete nervous breakdown, it has taken many years for my case to be heard, I am unable to work, I have suffered far more than any sanctions which may be placed against me could ever cause, I have been portrayed as the Devil incarnate with little opportunity to defend myself, the whole process needs investigating, far more consideration should be taken of the impact upon the registrants life, both financially and emotionally. As nurses, we are encouraged to whistleblow and report bad practice, but, woe betide you if you do so, malicious and vindictive complaints are made frequently, I will conclude by stating that, just because someone is senior in position to yourself does not make them more credible, if your face does not fit, you are doomed, your life is in tatters and you face the rest of your life dependant on benefits as you will never get another job with bad references.

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