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‘The NMC code of professional conduct is not a stick with which to beat registrants’

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It’s a shame that Simon Daniels aired such unhelpful and misinformed views about the NMC, its role and its responsibilities (NT Opinion, 15 January, p14).

Let’s start with the NMC code of professional conduct. This is not a stick with which to beat our registrants. It is a tool for nurses and midwives to promote safe and effective care.

The code reflects the direct input of nurses and midwives around the UK who, with other stakeholders, helped us to write the new version that was approved in December 2007.

The article questions the value for money of NMC registration. It is true that the NMC does not represent nurses and midwives – this is the role of the unions. Our role as regulator is to protect the public. Nurses and midwives pay for regulation because they, not the government, are directly responsible for this.

Our role includes fitness-to-practise adjudication. While only a tiny percentage of registrants (fewer than 0.2%) ever appear before a fitness-to-practise panel, this important responsibility, which includes significant registrant input as panel members, is costly.

The NMC is far from being a ‘faceless organisation’. Mr Daniels misleads readers by suggesting his contact with us resulted in him receiving nothing but a standard information leaflet. Each enquiry elicited a personal response and, had he used any of the information given to him, it would have prompted an entirely different article.

The article referred to the cost of the NMC’s premises. We had previously explained to him that, thanks to an agreement between the General Nursing Council for England and Wales and the BBC in 1935, 23 Portland Place costs the NMC £250 a year to lease for a term of 999 years.

Until December 2006, the building had not been refurbished since 1987 and no longer met government health and safety standards. Without this refurbishment, NMC staff, many of whom are fellow nurses and midwives, would not have been able to work in a safe environment.

The NMC regularly consults with nurses and midwives on issues that will directly affect their professions, giving those who wish to voice their opinions the opportunity to have their say. That said, we do appreciate that we could explore new ways of communicating with and involving more people from the register in our daily work.

But how is the NMC already working to involve its members more? First, through our magazine, NMC News – not NMC Quarterly, as it was called in the article. NMC News, which we are constantly improving, contains information on all our most recent work so that everyone on the register is kept up to date about the latest standards and guidance, information about current and upcoming consultations, details about new initiatives and how they will affect nurses and midwives, as well as a host of other relevant information.

We would also welcome any suggestions from readers on how we can improve communications.

What’s more, we are working to create a register that is active and dynamic, accessible, user friendly and modern for the use of nurses and midwives, employers and the public. This includes making the website easier to use, as well as potentially introducing online services such as fee payment and the ability to record CPD activity.

This project will also create a secure system of data collection that will help us have a clearer understanding of who is on the register. We can then tailor our services for specific groups, around language and communication for example. Once we know the make-up of the register, we will also ensure the members who sit on the conduct and competence panels reflect its diversity.

Together, these pieces of work will help us to improve standards, guidance and advice and will also help us determine where we need to allocate further resources. But this work can only happen if we have the appropriate funds.

Nancy Kirkland, NMC President, London

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