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NMC to monitor ‘systemic’ as well as individual failures


The Nursing and Midwifery Council has agreed to develop a system to monitor “systemic failure” in trusts.

The NMC currently only investigates individual fitness to practise cases but agreed last week to set up a clinical excellence team to collect evidence of problems at an organisational level.

The regulatory body commissioned a report after pledging to increase the focus on patient safety after poor nursing standards were found to have played a part in high profile problems at Mid Staffordshire and Basildon and Thurrock foundation trusts.

Dame Elizabeth Fradd led the NMC’s working group looking “to find ways to assist [the] NMC to be more proactive in its protection of the public, within existing powers”.

Her final report recommended “hold[ing] nursing directors to account for the quality of their patient care” by asking them to make an annual report on how they were meeting NMC standards.

The report also said NMC staff felt there was a need for a “philosophical” change at the NMC to make it “become a more proactive organisation and for each section to work more closely together”.

“Informal networks do exist across [the] NMC but the organisation is highly dependent on personal recall, because of the lack of systems for proactive sharing,” it said.

Dame Elizabeth recommended the NMC set up an IT system to collect information on trusts.

But she urged the council to wait and see how the regulatory regimes of other bodies developed before asking for new legal powers.

The decision to develop a monitoring system for trusts could result in a significant extension in the NMC’s powers and reach.

The move came as the NHS staff council agreed that all employees had a duty and contractual right to report concerns around patient safety, public interest and malpractice.

NHS Employers said this extra protection for whistleblowers would be included in the NHS terms and conditions of service handbook.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Good Heavens. I must admire's restraint when they could have been entirely justified in using "Dinosaur quango finally wakes up and smells the coffee".

    I know of a number of cases where nurses have been sanctioned by the NMC for performing duties that were subsequently deemed acts of misconduct and yet were positively encouraged by local managers at the time.

    Of course, the question now is how many managers of sanctioned nurses will be tried retrospectively?

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  • Isn't this the role of the CQC? So we have two organisations whose remit will cross over and therefore the potential for something to fall down the gap.

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  • Thank god the NMC is actually planning to tackle the elephant in the room. How can they hold individual nurses over a barrel when their code of conduct is becoming ever more difficult to follow due to the penny pinching culture in evidence in so many hospitals. By all means hold us to high standards, but also hold our leaders to the same standards.

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  • Anonymous 9:26 - maybe that's the motive? CQC can identify the failings but not sanction professionals so need NMC etc. If NMC do CQC job that's another quango the UK government can axe & save money.

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  • Hahaha!!! "Dinosaur quango finally wakes up and smells the coffee". Outstanding Anonymous | 21-Sep-2010 8:50 am.

    Unfortunately I will believe it when I see it. When trusts are held to account more than individual Nurses for systemic failures, when rules such as a Nurse/patient ratio are implemented and enforced, when the NMC and CQC start acting on their rhetoric, THEN, and only then, will I start to believe these organisations are useful.

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