Our legislation

Overview of our legislation, how it fits together and what this means for us and the nurses, midwives and nursing associates we regulate


Like other professional healthcare regulators, we have a set of governing legislation.Our main legislation is the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 (‘the Order’); a series of orders made by the Privy Council and Rules made by our Council sit underneath the Order.

All our legislation was created under powers in the Health Act 1999, and all of our legislation is secondary legislation. These pieces of legislation work together to form a detailed legal framework that determines how we operate. To change how we operate generally requires legislative change.

Our legislation

The Order established our organisation and sets out our primary purpose of protecting the public, the structure of the organisation and our functions and activities. The Order also sets out some binding principles and oversight arrangements for us. We are accountable to the Privy Council, the Department of Health and the Professional Standards Authority.

The Order also sets out matters that require either the Privy Council to make orders or our Council to make Rules. Both the Privy Council orders and Rules that sit underneath the Order serve a number of different functions. Primarily, they set out the detailed approach to our higher-level functions and activities which are set out in the Order. So, the Order must permit certain activities and the Privy Council orders and Rules made by our Council set out an approach to those.

Both draw their legal standing (or ‘vires’) from the Order. They cover functions including registration, fitness to practise processes, and setting standards of education and training.

How can our legislation be changed?

Any changes to our functions and activities will likely require a change to our legislation, given the detailed nature of this legislation. We must consult with relevant stakeholders on all proposed changes to our legislation. Any changes are subject to parliamentary processes following consultation, ending in approval by the Privy Council.