The Nursing and Midwifery Council has improved its performance overall, but is still missing targets requiring it to maintain an accurate register and ensure registrants are continually fit to practise.
The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care – which regulates nine professional bodies including the NMC – noted the nursing regulator’s progress in customer service, introducing online registration and concluding fitness to practise hearings more quickly.
“We have met several more standards than last year, which is a considerable achievement”
Introduction of the new code of conduct, its work with the General Medical Council in developing joint duty of candour guidance and its handling of concerns about midwifery practice in Guernsey in the past year, were also all praised in the PSA’s annual performance review for 2014-15.
However, the PSA found that despite ongoing preparation work for introducing revalidation, the NMC did not yet meet the standard for having a system to ensure its registrants were continually fit to practise.
It also noted that some if its “most significant” concerns around the proposed model for revalidation remained.
Failure to evaluate the risks assocoiated with different groups of registrants using the proposed “one size fits all” model was one concern noted by the PSA.
“Although the report highlights good progress, we know there is still plenty to do and we are not complacent about that”
Another was the lack of available information the NMC had provided about the costs and benefits of the proposed scheme, and the operational impacts on the regulator and third parties involved.
Concerns have already been raised by registrants that the cost of revalidation might be passed on to them via an increase in the annual registration fee.
“The NMC told us that the outcome of [its] initial assessment will be used to inform further work it has commissioned that will run alongside the revalidation pilots,” noted the PSA.
It added: “In our view, it might have been advantageous for the NMC to have undertaken that work at an earlier stage, so that it could have informed the pilots.”
Harry Cayton, chief executive of the PSA, said: “We are pleased to report that the regulators are generally protecting the public well. It is especially pleasing to see the overall improvement in the NMC’s performance since our strategic review over two years ago.”
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “I am delighted that the PSA’s annual performance review recognises the improvements we have made and the good practice we have demonstrated in 2014-15.
“We have met several more standards than last year, which is a considerable achievement,” she said.
“Although the report highlights good progress, we know there is still plenty to do and we are not complacent about that. Getting better in the interests of the public and the professions is our ambition which we are committed to,” she added.