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NMC reveals reasons why nurses are referred to regulator

Only one in five referrals to fitness to practise proceedings concern patient care.
NMC hearing

Only one in five referrals to fitness to practise proceedings concern patient care, data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reveals.

Of 706 allegations made against nurses and midwives between January and March of this year, 136 related to patient care, 126 to prescribing and medicines management and 6 to social media.

Sexual offences accounted for 15 cases, behaviour or violence for 44, and 53 were related to record-keeping. Not maintaining professional boundaries accounted for 11 cases, communication issues 24 and criminal proceedings 56.

The statistics, published in the NMCs annual fitness to practise (FtP) report published this week, follow a new approach to recording the reasons for referrals.

Rise in cases

New cases referred to the regulator are increasing, but at a slower rate than over the past five years, the report revealed. In 2016-17 there

Only one in five referrals to fitness to practise proceedings concern patient care, data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reveals.


Picture: Charles Milligan

Of 706 allegations made against nurses and midwives between January and March of this year, 136 related to patient care, 126 to prescribing and medicines management and 6 to social media.

Sexual offences accounted for 15 cases, behaviour or violence for 44, and 53 were related to record-keeping. Not maintaining professional boundaries accounted for 11 cases, communication issues 24 and criminal proceedings 56.

The statistics, published in the NMC’s annual fitness to practise (FtP) report published this week, follow a new approach to recording the reasons for referrals.

Rise in cases

New cases referred to the regulator are increasing, but at a slower rate than over the past five years, the report revealed. In 2016-17 there were 5,476 new referrals, which is a 1% increase on the 5,415 referrals in 2015-16.

The NMC is also closing 60% of cases – more than 3,550 – at the earliest stage, an increase from the 51% early closure rate in 2015-16.

‘The increase reflects our commitment to reach the outcome that best protects the public at the earliest opportunity and our investment in effective early-stage decision making,’ the report said.

Other statistics

The FtP report, and the NMC’s Annual Report and Accounts 2016-17 and Strategic Plan 2017-18, which was published at the same time, also revealed:

  • An average of 76% of FtP cases were completed within 15 months, missing the target of 80%. This was due to prioritising the progression of older cases, the regulator said.
  • The pay and benefits package of NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith was £256,027, up from £220,284 in 2015-16. The amount for 2016-17 includes a bonus from the previous year, pension and pay for missed annual leave.
  • There has been an increase in enquiries from education institutes who would like to offer nursing courses. There were more than 900 courses going through the approval process in March as universities respond to new routes into nursing.
  • Striking-off orders increased by almost a third, with 344 registrants removed from the register in 2016-17, up from 261 the previous year. But more cases were concluded last year and this figure does fluctuate from year to year.

Ms Smith said: ‘These reports mark another successful and productive year for us and highlight the substantial amount of positive work the NMC has undertaken.’

Broad range

RCN deputy director of nursing Stephanie Aiken said she was not surprised by the broad range of allegations that are made against nurses that ‘relate to conduct both within practice and in their public life’.

She said improving understanding of the reasons for nurses being referred would benefit patient safety and nursing staff.  

‘It will help to inform how patient safety can be best assured, as well as how this can translate into standards and guidance for nurses and midwives to support them to be safe and effective practitioners,’ she said. 


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