NMC breached confidentiality during investigations
Professional Standards Authority points to regulator's poor record-keeping
The nurse regulator breached confidentiality or data-handling rules in 11 of 100 fitness to practise cases checked by auditors.
An inspection of 100 cases handled by the Nursing and Midwifery Council last year that were closed without going to a fitness to practise (FtP) panel found there were weaknesses in areas such as the gathering of information and evidence, and inadequacies in the handling of some cases.
Auditors from the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) highlighted long delays – of up to a year in one case – for registrants and complainants waiting to receive updates on their cases.
The PSA report stated: 'We have been unable to conclude that the NMC has achieved consistent improvement in record-keeping across its caseload. Poor practices for information governance and poor record-keeping led to confidentiality or data breaches in 11 cases.'
In one example, a registrant sent the NMC copies of a patient’s records even though the registrant did not have the authority to hold or share them.
'This was a matter the NMC did not identify as problematic or investigate further. Instead, it retained the records and included them in the bundle of documents for consideration by the regulator's investigating committee,' the report said.
The PSA, which last audited the NMC in 2013, recommended the regulator review its records management to reduce the number of data, confidentiality and information breaches that occur.
In addition, the authority said it had 'some anxiety' about the NMC actively encouraging registrants who have shown no interest in leaving the register to make voluntary removal applications if they are the subject of FtP proceedings.
However, the PSA acknowledged there were some areas where the NMC continued to perform well, such as documenting risk assessments.
An NMC spokesperson said: 'We are pleased to note the PSA has identified a number of areas where we have continued to perform well and maintained the good performance they found in their 2013 report.
'We will review all of the audit findings and recommendations and will continue to strengthen our FtP process. Many of the cases referred to were concluded almost two years ago.'
Read the full PSA report here.