Managers have been accused of referring nurses to the regulator for performance issues that they should be sorting them out themselves.
Royal College of Nursing executive director for nursing and service delivery Janet Davies said last week that managers were “hiding behind” the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Latest figures from the NMC and the professional regulators, such as the General Medical Council, have shown a recent hike in fitness to practise referrals. In its annual report for 2010-11, the NMC said it received an “unprecedented” 4,211 new cases. This compares to 2,988 the previous year.
It suggested its work to make it easier for people to complain about nurses, for example its increased web profile and social media presence, may have “contributed to the dramatic increase in the number of referrals”.
The issue was last week discussed at the Florence Nightingale Foundation annual conference in London.
During a panel discussion, Ms Davies said: “It’s important we look at this and make sure it isn’t more people who are performing incredibly badly in their role and they are not fit to practise.”
But she added: “From my experience there is also a move from managers who are not their taking their leadership responsibility enough in managing poor practice.”
She said people knew about poor practice going on in their clinical areas, “but they haven’t done anything about it”. They were not necessarily things you can be struck off for, she added, but were usually more minor problems that could be overcome with support.
“People are referring to the NMC to let them sort it out, rather than actually sorting it out themselves,” Ms Davies said.