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‘Grave concerns’ over appointment of new NMC chair


A new chair has been appointed to lead the troubled Nursing and Midwifery Council, but the regulator itself has raised concerns about the selection process.

The Department of Health said in a statement today that an experienced former civil servant, Mark Addison, had been appointed as the NMC’s new chair by the Privy Council.

He is joining the nursing regulator from his current role as a non-executive director at the National Archives. He has previously held several senior positions in the civil service, as well as roles at No 10 and the Cabinet Office.

The DH said in a statement that Mr Addison had a “strong track record in improving performance at a number of public bodies”, including the Crown Prosecution Service, where he was chief executive from 1998 to 2001, and at the Rural Payments Agency in 2006.

He will take up post in the autumn and the appointment will be for 18 months initially.

However, in a statement the NMC council said while it “acknowledged” the appointment of Mr Addison, it said it was concerned about having the appointment imposed on it.

The regulator had been seeking a new chair with the help of the Appointments Commission, following the resignation of Tony Hazell in March.

But earlier this month it was revealed that the Appointments Commission had stopped its process in light of the critical review of the NMC by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which identified failings “at every level” by the regulator.

This prompted the Department of Health to intervene. It decided the appointment would be made by the Privy Council with advice from the DH.

But the NMC complained it had already spent £62,000 on developing a job description and other work on the recruitment process. A shortlist of eight candidates had been drawn up before the decision to abandon the search was made.

In its response to the appointment of Mr Addison today, the NMC’s ruling council said: “The NMC council acknowledge the appointment by the Privy Council of Mark Addison as chair of the NMC.

“However, as the council of an independent regulator, they feel it necessary to express their grave concern regarding the appointment selection and lack of an open, transparent and equal opportunities process to demonstrate how this person meets the specifications for the chair laid out in the CHRE report.”

The CHRE report had called for a set of “clear sighted” new leaders at the regulator who had “the personal credibility, leadership behaviours, competencies and communication skills necessary” to turn the NMC round.

The statement added that “in the interest of stability”, the council would work with Mr Addison to “continue building public and professional confidence in the NMC as an effective and efficient regulator, focusing on our key regulatory function, the protection of the public”.

The council said it wished to “recognise the contribution” made by interim NMC chair Judith Ellis and interim chief executive Jackie Smith over the last four months.

“Under their leadership the NMC is already making progress in many areas identified in the CHRE report,” the council said.

However, the CHRE said it was “pleased to hear” of the announcement.

In a statement, it said: “In our strategic review report on the NMC, we said that the appointment of competent leaders was absolutely critical to the future success of the organisation.

“We look forward to working with Mark Addison and the NMC’s council to implement the recommendations in our strategic review. We also look forward to progress on the appointment of a new chief executive.”

Major nursing and midwifery unions universally expressed confidence in the appointment and said they were committed to work with Mr Addison.  

Janet Davies, the Royal College of Nursing’s executive director of nursing and service delivery, said she was pleased that a “credible, experienced individual who can start to tackle some of the organisation’s fundamental challenges” had been appointed.

She said: “The RCN will be seeking to meet with Mr Addison as a matter of urgency. In particular, nurses are hugely concerned about the proposed hike in NMC fees at a time when many are struggling financially.”

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “We are looking forward to working with Mark in his new role. Mark’s appointment is a vital step forward in making sure the NMC can work in the best possible way for patients, nurses and midwives.

“We know that both NMC staff and council members are still facing difficult times, but we are confident that their determination and hard work will see the organisation through this period, and in their commitment to working with the new chair.”

Ms Adams also paid tribute to the “hard work” of Professor Ellis as interim chair.

She said: “Taking the helm through difficult times is never easy, but Judith has done a great job and it is important that both she, and the many dedicated staff who work with her, are recognised.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, also welcomed the appointment of Mr Addison.

She said: “We believe that he has the particular skills required to steer the NMC through a phase of change following the CHRE report. The appointment also indicates that the government is prepared to get involved in supporting the NMC more directly.

“I hope that this will be helpful and may mean that there is scope for the NMC and the government to work together to avoid the proposed massive registration fee increase.

“This is a critical and important issue for the incoming chair and one that, particularly in the light of negative reports about past NMC governance and leadership, faces significant opposition from nurses and midwives on the NMC register.”

Speaking on his appointment, Mr Addison said: “I am looking forward to taking up the appointment of chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

“Addressing the findings of the CHRE report will be a big challenge. But that report makes clear that the organisation is moving in the right direction and that the staff have the ability and motivation to manage these changes and emerge stronger. That gives a strong platform on which to build.

“I know that all those with an interest in the NMC are concerned about its current position. I will be keen to draw upon their support. Above all, I look forward to working with NMC members and staff to ensure the organisation is the efficient and effective guardian of public safety and professional standards that it needs to be. That will not happen overnight, but I am confident that it can be achieved.”

He added: “Judith Ellis, as interim chair of the NMC, has been instrumental in steering the organisation through the challenges and instability of the last six months. Her work has laid the foundations for improvement at the NMC. I look forward to working with her.”


Mark Addison: career path

Mark Addison has senior leadership experience of operational management and of helping organisations turn round and move on to a new and successful path. He joined the Crown Prosecution Service as the new chief executive when it had been the subject of a review recommending a number of significant organisational changes. With the then new Director of Public Prosecutions, he introduced a wide ranging programme of reform which stabilised the organisation and began to improve its performance and reputation.

Mark joined the Rural Payments Agency as its Chief Executive the day after it became clear that the new farm payments system faced a number of challenges. He worked with the senior team and staff to tackle the crisis so that the Agency was able to make the bulk of the payments and begin the difficult process of resolving the underlying issues.

He has held a range of non-executive director posts since he left the civil service in 2006, and has led a number of reviews and investigations. He has been involved in assessing the capability of senior management teams in government and making recommendations to help them strengthen and improve performance. He has worked extensively with professionals and been in leadership positions in organisations with a strong professional ethos.

Source: Department of Health

Readers' comments (11)

  • I wonder what his starting salary will be... How much is our NMC registration going up by?

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  • This government is intent on destroying all the health professions, they continue to discredit us and have set up the changes to the health service such that when they fail, they can blame it on us. Feel very uncomfortable about an imposed leader, of course nurses who are not fit to practice should be removed from the register, this is a control mechanism. We think totalitarianism only belongs to Russia, welome to Cameron's UK. Let's hope they don't have need to the health service, what is left of it.

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  • I hope this is a temporary appointment to CLOSE IT DOWN. Biggest waste of money ever, they neither protect the public nor represent the profession.

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  • a civil servant??? !!!

    at least he won't need to worry about regular proof of statutory CPD, hours of practice and professional portfolio or costly fees to remain on the NMC the register!

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  • £62,000 on recruitment for one post? I am not surprised then that they have had a Chairperson imposed on them. Such inefficiency from our own governing body makes me embarrassed to be a nurse.

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  • grumpy

    I'm not surprised they have 'grave concerns' - probably afraid of losing their cushy jobs.
    Incompetent wasters.

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  • Florence

    I'd say good luck to Mr Addison. He is clearly going to need it !!
    He will be judged on what he does or fails to do.

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  • Let's hope that a person outside our so called profession can look at the organisation to improve it. However, I sincerely hope he does not have the power to impose non-nursing ideas on us. A lot of the problems have been in administrating the NMC - wastage of money and useless individuals running it. Can it be worse than what we have been paying into already? We do need regulation to maintian professionalism. Let's face it, we have little respect from anyone at the moment because standards are so poor because regulation and fear of whistle blowing and inaction from NHS nursing managers perpetuate the employment of poor nurses which then dilutes the impact of good ones. Get education right, support the nurses in post and improve the care of patients. Perhaps then we can call ourselves a profession again? Good luck to Mr Addison and please help us to improve!

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  • Interesting that the unions support his appointment as a creditable and qualified individual!

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  • Not everyone thinks the fee increase is unwarranted. I personally think it is time nurses and midwives learnt to value what if means to be a self regulated professional. Interesting that unions do not support the fee increase when they charge more than double the proposed increase. I wish Mr Addison well in his new and very challenging role.

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