Editorial

Nurses will benefit from NMC’s new approach to hearings

Overhauling procedure for fitness to practise cases will save money, says Graham Scott.

Overhauling procedure for fitness to practise cases will save money, says Graham Scott

Ask nurses about their professional regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), and you will invariably hear complaints about its cost. Many will wonder what they get in return for their £120 annual contribution to NMC coffers, especially as they have no influence over how that money is spent.

Most of the cash is used to pursue fitness to practise cases, yet many investigations are launched on the back of spurious claims about a registrant’s conduct, or are based on flimsy accusations that could easily be handled by employers before reaching the profession’s regulatory body.

However, the NMC has long been hamstrung by the legislation that set up the organisation at the turn of the century. It is obliged to investigate the allegations it receives, and follow outdated procedures that take much too long to complete, and so rack up huge costs in the process.

Change in procedure

The Law Commission, an independent body that exists to review such legislation, issued recommendations to the coalition government in April 2014 and now – finally – work has begun on implementing them.

The NMC will be able, in the words of its chief executive Jackie Smith, to develop a proportionate approach to cases, and resolve less contentious matters more simply and quickly. Only the most serious cases will proceed to a full hearing.

About time too. Let’s hope that the money saved will be passed back to registrants in the form of lower fees.

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