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FtP cases: NMC fails to support people involved

Flaws identified in NMC's handling of Morecambe Bay tragedies persist even now
Jackie Smith

Flaws identified in NMC's handling of Morecambe Bay tragedies persist even now

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has pledged to improve support for people involved in its fitness to practise process after its handling of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust midwifery failings were highlighted in its annual performance assessment.

The regulator was responding to the publication of an assessment of its performance for 2016-17 carried out by its own regulator, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

Assessment report

Criticism in the assessment report echoes findings in the PSAs Lessons Learned review of how the NMC handled cases of midwives at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria. Poor care was linked to the deaths of at least 19 mothers and babies between 2004 and 2012.

The PSA report,

Flaws identified in NMC's handling of Morecambe Bay tragedies persist even now


Jackie Smith, outgoing chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. 
Picture: David Gee

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has pledged to improve support for people involved in its fitness to practise process after its handling of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust midwifery failings were highlighted in its annual performance assessment.

The regulator was responding to the publication of an assessment of its performance for 2016-17 carried out by its own regulator, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

Assessment report

Criticism in the assessment report echoes findings in the PSA’s Lessons Learned review of how the NMC handled cases of midwives at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria. Poor care was linked to the deaths of at least 19 mothers and babies between 2004 and 2012.

The PSA report, published on 16 May, revealed the NMC ignored police information for almost two years and highlighted poor record-keeping, mishandling of bereaved families and delayed investigations.

The PSA’s annual assessment published this week shows it is satisfied the NMC is meeting 23 of the 24 standards essential to good regulation.

NMC failure

However, the organisation failed to meet the standard designed to ensure ‘all parties to a fitness to practise case are kept updated on the progress of their case and supported to participate effectively in the process’.

Referring to the Lessons Learned review, the performance report’s authors write: ‘While this review largely considered matters which had happened before this review period, we identified a number of concerns about the way in which the NMC dealt with families which are ongoing and apply beyond the relatively small number of cases we looked at as part of that review.’

‘Committed to reaching out to families’

In response, NMC chief executive Jackie Smith, who announced her resignation two days before the Lessons Learned review was published, said: ‘We take the findings of both of these reviews extremely seriously.

‘In recent years we have made significant improvements to the way we work but we know there’s much more to do.

‘We are committed to reaching out to the families who have lost loved ones or suffered in other ways in the Morecambe Bay cases.

‘We will continue to build on the work of recent years as we change and improve to better support those involved in fitness to practise cases.’

The NMC’s ruling council is due to discuss the Lessons Learned review on 6 June.

Ms Smith will step down in July.


Further information

Read the PSA’s Lessons Learned Review


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