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NMC chief exec resigns

  • 99 Comments

The chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Dickon Weir-Hughes has resigned from his post with immediate effect, Nursing Times has been told.

Professor Weir-Hughes has been on sick leave since 16 December but has resigned from his post for “personal reasons”, according to a source at the nursing regulator.

NMC director of fitness to practise Jackie Smith has been acting chief executive since then and will continue to do, the regulator said.

In a statement issued this morning, NMC chair Tony Hazell said: “After a period of sick leave, professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, has decided to resign from his position as chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and leave with immediate effect.

“We would like to express our thanks for his contribution to the NMC and wish him well for the future.

He added: “In December 2011, the NMC announced its arrangements for managing the organisation during professor Weir Hughes’ sickness absence.

Jackie Smith, director of fitness for practice, will continue as acting chief executive and registrar until the council decides its future arrangements.”

Professor Weir-Hughes joined the NMC as chief executive and registrar on 2 November 2009.

During his period of office, he has been an advocate of the need for tighter regulation of healthcare assistants. He was quoted in the Times last September as having said hospital wards could face a “ghastly national disaster” because of a growing number of unregulated HCAs.

But in a letter to Nursing Times last week, professor Hazell “clarified” the NMC’s position on regulating HCAs, appearing to row back from earlier comments made by professor Weir-Hughes.

He wrote: “The council has discussed this matter on a number of occasions and has acknowledged the importance of enhanced protection for patients. However, to date there has been no formal policy decision by the council regarding the nature of any proposed regulation.” 

Prior to his appointment at the NMC professor Weir-Hughes was executive director of nursing at Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

He was chief nurse and deputy chief executive at the Royal Marsden Hospital from 1998 to 2007.

Nursing Times has learned the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence is likely to carry out a strategic review of the regulator.

CHRE chief executive Harry Cayton said: “I think it would be very valuable to have a review and we’re working with the NMC about how they might prepare for the appointment of a new chief executive.”

A series of reviews into the NMC have taken place in recent years, mainly focussing on the large backlog of fitness to practise cases.

A CHRE audit of the regulator in November found the NMC was starting to make improvements but continued to have “areas of significant weaknesses” in its handling of fitness to practise cases.

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “I would like to take this opportunity to wish Dickon well for the future and to express my thanks for his work during his tenure at the NMC.

“This is a crucial time for the regulator, and I would also like to express my hope that a permanent successor can be found swiftly.”

  • 99 Comments

Readers' comments (99)

  • Oh, and I definitely don't see this as a cushy job with a desk job at the end (but then I've done desk jobs...can't imagine anything less boring!!)!

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  • Steve Williams

    Catriona Campbell-Baigrie | 13-Jan-2012 3:01 am

    You “intercoursing” go then girl! You are A-right by me. We need some more like you! Glad to have you aboard.

    @ Anonymous | 13-Jan-2012 3:00 am

    Have you ever heard of the Internet term tl:dnr? Dohhh!!!

    Are you on drugs or can you not compose a complete sentence? If you can then how are you working in the 21st Century as a nurse without having to hit the “ENTER” key occasionally.

    Bahhh... The trolls that hit this site make me sick...

    I was going to say “anyone fancy giving me artificial resuscitation” and then I realised how sexist, stereotypical and unprofessional that would sound.

    ...OTOH... the offer’s still open.

    >> No, Daily Maul I really WAS just joking!! <<

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  • It is good to hear nurses voicing their concerns about their regulator. It is a shame that more do not do the same and that they are listened to. Nurses are required to be registered by the NMC to enable them to practice, and they have to pay for that privilege. The NMC is therefore accountable to nurses and should be ensuring that it provides reputable service that not only protects the public but also the reputation of the nursing profession. It has failed do this in recent years. It is time for those working in regulatory and monitoring bodies to realise that in exchange for substantial salaries they have a duty to provide an excellent standard of service to protect the publicand the nursing profession.

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  • well.....getting up this morning i was expecting somemore "news" re Dickon's demise and discussion on his somewhat rapid and hasty departure from the NMC.

    Sadly nothing on BBC :(

    The implication of his exit is that he will not be held to account, in any meaningful sense, re his decisions and stewardship of the NMC.

    I for one though am pleased I will no longer have to listen to his bleating and pontification. I have not found a single comment in support, on any site, regarding his departure. For such an eminent person, this speaks volumes of how he has been percieved.

    Bye bye "Professor Muscle" (his online pseudonym)Dickon Weir-Hughes. You will not be missed.

    Karma :)

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  • Steve Williams

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  • I am disappointed that Professor Weir-Hughes has resigned, since he has been in post as he has appeared more publicly than previous CEO’s of the NMC. He has raised the awareness of nursing and many issues that affect it, such as the need for HCA regulation. He has also had to oversee changes to the NMC that are not resolved overnight, especially the cultural change.

    I find some of the comments unhelpful in their personal attack on Professor Weir-Hughes, and with very little constructive suggestions for improvement. Also I find the suggestion of one regulator appalling, and one I would resist. I entered a profession that strove to achieve professional recognition, and the difficulties that we have had with the NMC are no different to the troubles that the GMC has experienced.

    Ultimately all governing bodies are accountable to the super regulator but also its members. Perhaps instead of criticising the NMC and its processes, nurses should become actively involved in the NMC through the mechanisms that are available, only then will change become effective and appropriate.
    .

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  • To the Boards Members of NMC, I would ask you to look at the comments with respect to the leadership of NMC, Bset wishes for the future to the out going CEO, this now is the opportunity to take stock and engage with nurses,midwives, Educators and in particular Patients, Public,service users and carers.
    As a regulator you often overstate your postion that you are here to protect the public, yet have very little to do with the public. I attended the October 2011 Council meeting in Cardiff and as a member of the public, it did not feel to be welcoming and on that occasion found the chair of NMC to be lest than understanding. Time to engage with your membership and go beyond FtP meetings and taking in over £26,000,000 in registration fees NMC is poor value for money. Seize the opportunity to improve the brand of NMC.

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  • In reply to the above quotes I would like to say that the reason people have commented negatively to Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes' professional demise, with the exception of Gary above, is that he was clearly an autocratic leader who ruled by imposing his will rather than engaging with people as equals.

    One should listen to his radio interview (link listed in a previous comment) to realise that he ruled with an iron fist. When he uses the word "harshly" you can hear pure venom in his tone.


    The recent CQC report into his previous employer (Barking, Havering & Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust) is pretty damning regarding the management style of this organisation and of the management structure (for period covering Dickon's tenure) which it found to be lacking sufficient governance, autocratic and failing to engage with its workforce. It also specifically highlighted deficiencies with A&E and Maternity care and process for which he was responsible. Now, under the auspices of a more engaging director of nursing and chief exec staff feel valued, freel they can report deficiencies and the care is improving. Many of the structures he put in place and decisions he made it would seem now have been overturned.

    I disagree with the comment above that he was more accessible than previous NMC CEO's. He clearly had his own vision with everyone else being wrong, did not engage and judging from the luke warm responses from the NMC regarding his send off he will not be missed

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  • simon green

    IHAS website FONS is “delighted” to announce the appointment of Professor Tony Butterworth as its new chairman following the resignation of Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes
    http://www.independenthealthcare.org.uk/index.php?/ihas-update-december-2011/Page-5.html

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  • Talking of professional accountability, I was surprised to learn on the internet that Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes is, or was, also a “Consultant in Mens Health” He had a Practice in Wimpole Street, London.

    Please see link http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/hardcoremuscleandfitness/message/14127

    where it is quoted……………
    “Dickon Weir-Hughes has developed the unique `Advanced kick-start
    lean muscle programme for men ™'.
    The programme provides health /
    fitness assessment, nutritional programming and Autogenic Training over a series of sessions and has been found to make a real physiological difference.

    Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, Consultant in Men's Health and Fitness
    Wimpole Therapeutics, 2 Wimpole Street, London W1G OED, UK
    020 7491 7767 dickon@...
    www.wimpoletherapeutics.com

    I am intrigued what qualifications he possesses to undertake this role and given he is not listed as a member of the British Autogenic Society who ensures he is, or has been, appropriately regulated and supervised.

    The British Autogenic Society’s own website states “ any person who is not a Member of the Society cannot be recommended as a suitable autogenic therapist”.

    http://www.autogenic-therapy.org.uk/practitioners/certitified-therapist-uk-based/

    To whom is (or was) Professor Weir-Hughes’ professionally accountable throughout his period of paid employment as a Consultant in Men’s Health???

    That is a legitimate question

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