Consultation launched to modernise Nursing and Midwifery Council
Government proposes changes to nursing and midwifery legislation
A consultation on changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) legal framework has been launched by the Department of Health in a bid to modernise the regulator and save millions of pounds.
If proposed changes relating to the NMC’s fitness to practise function are agreed, it will allow the regulator to conclude some cases against nurses and midwives at an earlier stage, while still taking the most serious cases through to a hearing.
The DH consultation states that costly full hearings will be reserved for more serious cases where there is a public interest. In the best case scenario, only 20% of fitness to practise (FtP) cases will progress to a full adjudication stage. Ongoing annual savings of £6.9 million are expected.
In certain cases, a formal binding agreement between the regulator and the registrant that the registrant will undertake activities such as training or operate under supervision, could obviate the need for a case to be investigated further by a practice committee.
A nurse could also be issued with a warning or advice from a case examiner or investigating committee even if there is no case to answer at the end of an investigation. This would be in cases when the NMC had concerns about the registrant’s past or present conduct.
Warnings could be given, for example, in a case where a nurse’s accepted conduct at the time of the alleged incident might indicate impaired fitness to practice, but the investigation shows that any clinical risk has been fully remedied by the nurse.
Further proposals include the removal of midwifery supervision from the NMC's legal framework in an attempt to separate regulation and supervision, and the removal of the midwifery committee which advises NMC Council. There is no similar statutory nursing committee advising the regulator.
Local supervising authorities currently oversee a system of local supervision of midwives. There are some concerns that midwives can be investigated and cases resolved locally without referral to the NMC.
Health minister Ben Gummer said: ‘I want the NHS to be the safest healthcare service in the world and this means making the midwifery and nursing professions as safe as they can be.
NMC’s chief executive Jackie Smith, added: ‘We have been pushing consistently for a more modern legal framework. As an organisation which is there to protect the public, we know it will make the NMC more efficient and cost effective.’
To read the consultation click here.