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.