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NURSING AND MIDWIFERY COUNCIL 'FAILING ON EVERY LEVEL'Blog Author: Ruth Thomas
In 2009 the Council for Healthcare and Regulatory Excellence (“CHRE”) published a report identifying numerous failings in the conduct of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (“NMC”).
It was unfortunate that the NMC found itself in a position where in January 2012, some 3 years after the first CHRE report was published, that the CHRE felt it has become necessary to report again. It is with some despair that the fresh CHRE report finds that the NMC is continuing to fail in its function and failing to press forward with the outcome of previous investigations by its own Regulatory Body.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council is a Regulatory Body whose function is to protect the public but also to protect the wellbeing of the Nurses and Midwives on its own register.
A main focus of the January 2012 report was the NMC’s handling of disciplinary cases against Nurses and Midwives referred to them.
The report, published on the 3rd July 2012, has highlighted problems ‘at every level’.
The increasing backlog of complaints was an issue that was raised in 2009 and yet in 2012, the issue remains. It is from personal experience, having represented Nurses and Midwives before the Conduct and Competence and Health Committees, that cases can find themselves not reaching Hearings until years after the original complaint was made.
The 2012 report provided details of the backlog, with 4500 cases of complaints against midwives and nurses awaiting a decision by the regulator and of those 1000 have yet to be allocated a hearing date. Some of these cases are still active and it has been found that some date back some 7 years to 2005.
It is unfortunate that I find that within my own caseload, some self same cases dating back to 2005 where there is no recourse whatsoever against the Nursing and Midwifery Council for the Nurse for the unexplained and distressing delay.
This is unacceptable practice and poor standards should not be expected as routine. Evidence is lost, people’s memories fade and as consequence of this, Panels have inadequate information put before them. Nurses and Midwives cannot address allegations that are old, unspecific and are drafted with a lack of foresight.
It is for the NMC to prove the allegations against the Nurse or Midwife; and in failing to appropriately screen and handle evidence; it is often the case that such evidence can be found to be faltering in its purpose. It is my experience that Panel Members themselves express frustration at the evidence that they are expected to consider which falls short of what they ought to expect.
Whilst it is entirely appreciated that where a Nurse or Midwife has made an error that could be seen to be incompatible with being allowed to continue to practice without restriction, in certain cases lives are put on hold, careers are sometimes stalled without reason and the emotional and financial effect on Nurses and Midwives is immense.
This is particularly true of cases I have dealt with where the allegations have been found unproven yet the Nurse or Midwife in question has been unable to work for years at a time. Improved screening and reliable, careful, and tighter management and examination of evidence are required. Consideration must be given by the NMC to “What can we actually prove?”
Is it time for the NMC to take full and substantial note from the Civil Court in its management of cases?
The CHRE have stated “the NMC’s long standing problems include confusion about its regulatory purpose, weak governance, poor planning, unreliable management of information, and inadequate information technology. From experience, this is quite true.
The regulators Interim Chief Executive, Jackie Smith said: “The report highlights substantial failings. We recognise these and we are sorry. It is clear that the NMC has not delivered effective and efficient regulation. We are committed to putting that right”.
The NMC is currently recruiting a new Chief Executive and Registrar. As with any organisation or business, strong leadership is essential to allow it to function within its purpose. It is hoped that in appointing its new Chief Executive and Registrar, the NMC will find leadership that will lead and pro-actively manage an organisation whose ultimate goal is to protect.
The NMC have stated, that in an attempt to bring to an end to any further backlogs, they will be holding 18 hearings a day rather than the current 15 a day, from September 2012.
A full copy of the report can be found HERE.
If you receive notification that you are to be subject Nursing and Midwifery Council Proceedings and are a member of the Royal College of Nursing or another Union, contact your Union immediately. If you are not in membership, Goodmans Law may be able to assist you in challenging the allegations made.
Goodmans Law also has many years experience of Healthcare Regulation and are always happy to help and advise.
For more information please contact us on 0800 073 0385 (0151 257 6000) or by email at FRT@goodmanslaw.co.uk . Our First Response Team is available from 8am to 8pm every business day.
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