The chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council is to stand down in what will be the third high profile resignation from the troubled regulator since December.
Tony Hazell joined the NMC on a two year term in January 2009. His term of office was extended for a year in December but in a statement Professor Hazell said he felt the time was “now right” for him to step down.
He will be replaced on a temporary basis by Judith Ellis, a registered nurse and executive dean for health and social care at London South Bank University, pending a permanent appointment.
The NMC is currently subject to a strategic review by its own regulator, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence. The review was launched following the departure of chief executive Dickon Weir-Hughes at the beginning of the year due to ill health.
Professor Weir-Hughes’ resignation followed that of director of standards and registration Roger Thompson, in December.
The regulator has faced repeated criticism for failing to get on top of its workload of fitness to practice cases.
Professor Hazell said the review would “bring further clarity to the NMC’s role and purpose”.
“I have been committed to providing continuity of leadership and support through a difficult phase for the NMC and to get the organisation back on track,” he said.
“In the last few months we have completely reassessed our work to ensure that everything we do is focused on our primary purpose: protecting the public. I believe that we are already making significant progress in this direction.
“The past few months have been extremely challenging but I am confident that the organisation is now going in the right direction and will continue to do so under the excellent leadership of the acting chief executive, Jackie Smith. For these reasons, I feel that the time is now right for me to step down from the role of chair.”
Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “An effective, fit for purpose nursing regulator which can uphold professional standards, is vital for the public, patients and the nursing profession. Judith Ellis is a highly experienced professional, with an impressive track record and I look forward to working with her during what is a crucial time for the organisation.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to wish Professor Hazell well for the future and to express my thanks for his work during his tenure at the NMC.”