The Nursing and Midwifery Council has “clarified its position” on regulating healthcare assistants, appearing to row back from earlier comments made by its chief executive backing mandatory regulation.
The regulator’s chair Tony Hazell has written to Nursing Times to “clarify its position on this issue” after a House of Lords debate in December in which “there were a number of references to the NMC and its perceived support for a system of mandatory regulation”.
NMC chief executive Dickon Weir-Hughes was quoted in the Times last September as having saidhospital wards could face a “ghastly national disaster” because of a growing number of unregulated HCAs.
But in the letter (see attached, right) Professor Hazell said: “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.”
He described the government’s announcement in November that a code of conduct and common training standards for HCAs would be developed as a “definite step in the right direction” and that it wanted to help develop voluntary regulation as “an effective mechanism for public protection”.
An NMC spokeswoman said: “Whilst we support the concept of regulation in the interests of patient and public safety, we want to make it clear that the NMC’s governing council has never formally agreed that mandatory regulation of healthcare support workers was the only way to strengthen public protection.”