NMC considers action against unregistered nurses working at trust

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is considering taking disciplinary action against three unregistered nurses discovered working at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust by Care Quality Commission inspectors

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is considering whether to bring disciplinary action against three practitioners who were discovered working as nurses at a UK trust despite not being on the register.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) officials alerted the regulatory body earlier this year following an inspection at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust in November.

Inspectors came across the unusual scenario of staff working as nurses in Broomfield Hospital’s emergency assessment unit despite not being registered. The three nurses were carrying out ‘advanced nursing tasks, including the handling of medicines without competencies or adequate supervision,’ the CQC said.

The staff had been awaiting approval from the NMC for applications for registration.

The trust told RCNi the incident was ‘wholly unacceptable’ but would not give details about how or why the unregistered practitioners were allowed to work. The practitioners were from ‘overseas’, but the trust would not say where.

In November CQC inspectors ordered the immediate removal of the practitioners from nursing duties, and following a further inspection of the trust in March the problem was found to be resolved.

It is not an offence to impersonate a regulated health or care professional and the NMC would not comment on whether it intends to contact police over the incident. The regulator would also not comment on whether it intends to initiate action against trust managers for failing to check the practitioners’ registration status.

An NMC spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of the CQC’s findings and are working with third parties to determine whether any fitness to practise cases are to be opened against individuals at the trust and, as such, are not able to comment further at this stage.’

A spokesperson for the trust said: ‘We have fully investigated with independent clinical support the isolated case of trained overseas nursing staff, who were awaiting their NMC registration to be completed, working in the emergency assessment unit. We are assured that whilst wholly unacceptable, it was a one-off isolated incident. Overseas nurses coming to work in our hospitals in future will be required to have their full NMC registration prior to commencing employment.’

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