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Rise in number of nurses referred to the NMC

The number of nurses and midwives being referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council has risen for the third year running, according to the regulator’s annual review.

The number of nurses and midwives being referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council has risen for the third year running, according to the regulator’s annual review.

The NMC building

The NMC’s fitness to practise (FtP) annual report revealed that the regulator received 5,415 new concerns in 2015-16, up 4.5% on the previous year.

A total of 5,183 concerns were received in 2014-15, and 4,687 in 2013-14.

But despite the rise, the regulator said the total number of concerns represented only a ‘very small proportion’ of the 692,550 nurses and midwives on the NMC register as of March this year.

Figures also show that employers remained the largest source of concerns, being responsible for 41% of referrals in 2015-16.

This was followed by patients or the public who accounted for one quarter of concerns raised.

Last month, former RCN general secretary Peter Carter said employers were needlessly adding to the NMC’s caseload with complaints that should have been handled internally.

Speaking at a debate on health regulation held in London, Dr Carter said: ‘There are far too many examples of employers referring to the NMC without ensuring only appropriate cases end up before it.’

The regulator launched an employer link service in September 2015 for UK health trusts and boards to ensure it receives the right FtP referrals.

Early closure

The annual report shows that 2,665 FtP cases were closed at the initial assessment stage in 2015-16. This is a closure rate of 51%, up from 38% in 2014-15.

The regulator cited recent changes to its FtP process as the reason for the improved closure rate. These included adding senior decision-makers at the early stage of the process; strengthening its early-stage decision-making by revising guidance on preliminary assessment of allegations; and establishing a team to manage high-profile, sensitive and
complex cases.

Smart resourcing

The FtP annual report states: ‘These changes mean we are better able to identify and close cases which do not raise public protection concerns at the earliest opportunity and concentrate our resources on investigating only serious cases which require regulatory action.’

Other findings from the FtP review and the NMC’s annual report and accounts include:

  • 1,635 calls dealt with daily by the NMC contact centre.
  • £220,284 spent on chief executive Jackie Smith’s total remuneration (an increase of 7.7% on 2014-15).
  • £565,000 spent on catering for FtP hearings and meetings (£675,000 in 2014-15).
  • £570,000 spent on recruitment (£307,000 in 2014-15).
  • 261 striking-off orders imposed on registrants (493 in 2014-15).
  • 78% of FtP cases completed in 15 months, above minimum expectation level of 65%.

Last week the NMC launched a consultation on proposed changes to its ‘costly and out of date’ FtP processes, which it hopes will save £6.9 million a year.

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