latest health care news

03.07.12

NMC aplogises for ‘substantial failings’ and hearings backlog

The Nursing and Midwifery council (NMC) is not performing its duties at an acceptable level and is struggling to deal with a backlog of complaints, a review into its performance has shown.

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) found that almost 4,500 cases are still awaiting a decision from the NMC, with a backlog of complaints against nurses and midwives that reaches back to 2005.

The NMC is currently holding 15 hearings a day, and this will increase to 18 from September in an effort to clear the delays. The regulator is currently seeking a new chair and chief executive.

CHRE chief executive Harry Cayton said: “The public have been let down. It doesn't mean nursing is unsafe – but the public, nurses and midwives ought to feel confident in the regulator. They haven't been able to.

“Significant delay in managing fitness to practise cases in itself introduces risks. The NMC is fulfilling its functions, but not to the standard or quality that the public have a right to expect.

“The regulator must finally leave its troubled past behind. New leaders must be appointed who are competent, credible and capable of addressing its very serious organisational problems.”

The regulator’s interim chief executive, Jackie Smith, said: “The report highlights substantial failings. We recognise these and we are sorry. It is clear the NMC has not delivered effective and efficient regulation. We are committed to putting that right.”

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: “It is clear that the NMC will not only have to develop more robust regulatory procedures, but also work very hard to regain the trust placed in them by patients, nurses and other healthcare professionals alike.”

RCM’s deputy general secretary Louise Silverton welcomed the report and said: “It raises major and important concerns about the NMC and is a forward-looking report and should be a wake-up call.”

She added that the NMC had a “key duty” to focus on its core regulatory functions to protect the public.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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