Reform the Nursing and Midwifery Council

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2013 Health Care Service Group Conference
14 December 2012

Recent times have witnessed a slew of criticism being laid at the door of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the regulator for nurses and midwives. To summarise but a few of these issues:

i)The organisation was roundly criticized for striking off nurse Margaret Heywood for her role in covert filming of care that exposed malpractice in a Panorama documentary.

ii)The capacity of the nursing and midwifery regulator to fairly and speedily carry out the important function of public protection has been reviewed and condemned by the then Council for Regulatory Healthcare Excellence (CHRE) in their report published earlier this year.

iii)There have been significant failings in the management and conduct of fitness to practise hearings including problems with timeliness, case handling, decision making and record keeping. The current backlog in cases is simply unacceptable.

Damning criticism has been directed at the management of NMC’s finances. Despite this, they have increased the professional registration fees from £76 to £100 per annum. As a result and for the first time, a majority of respondents to a recent UNISON survey indicated they would support multi-professional regulation. The loyalty registrants once had in their own regulator has ebbed away.

We call on the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)work with other organisations to monitor the NMC. It must address swiftly all of the criticism and recommendations outlined in the CHRE review published in 2012;

2)support continued campaigning for fairer professional regulation fees;

3)work to promote the tax relief system, in which members can claim on their professional registration fees and UNISON membership subscriptions;

4)push all of the regulators to consider proportionate fees based on earnings.

This is the last opportunity for the NMC to put its house in order. Neither public confidence nor the support of registrants should be taken for granted. The NMC needs to make sure they leave no stone unturned in addressing their failings.