Changes we've made
- People being at the heart of fitness to practise
- Redefining the purpose of hearings
- Emphasising the need to give nurses, midwives and nursing associates the chance to remedy and address the concern
- Looking at ways employers can deal with complaints at a local level
- Underlining the importance of considering the context of a case.
Our commitment to change
It draws on the rich insights from:
- our public consultation held in 2018
- qualitative research by ICE
- feedback from the consultation including input from patients, service-users and families, the professionals on our register, employers and other stakeholders.
Improving the way we handle people's concerns and reducing our fitness to practise caseload
Improving the way we handle concerns about people on our register is one of our main priorities for 2021 - 2022.
As the regulator of almost 732,000 nursing and midwifery professionals, we have a crucial role in promoting and upholding high professional standards. These standards support the professionals on our register to deliver kind, safe and effective care.
To ensure we’re getting this right, we’re building on our new approach to fitness to practise to deliver a number of sustainable improvements to our processes and decision making.
Fitness to practise caseload
Last year, as part of improving the way we handle concerns, we began taking steps to address an increase in our fitness to practise caseload.
But the coronavirus pandemic meant that we had to pause some cases and prioritise others to allow professionals to focus on Covid-19. That meant that our caseload increased further.
We're making changes to reduce the caseload quickly and fairly, creating long-lasting improvements to the way we regulate.
Making changes that are fairer and kinder to people
To reduce the caseload as quickly as possible, we're modernising the systems that support our regulatory work and investing in additional resources. This will help us to make the right decisions at the right time.
We're improving how we handle people's concerns by:
- building on the experience of virtual hearings where it is fair and practical to do so.
- working with others in the sector to foster a culture of openness and learning that supports people to improve their practice.
- continuing to support employers to resolve concerns locally with Managing Concerns: A resource for employers.
- making our screening process and guidance as straightforward as possible.
- taking a new approach to taking account of context and using a set of commitments to help us do this.
- improving the information on our website to help people find what they need, when they need it.
Read our Chief Executive and Registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe's blog, where she explains what we're doing to improve how we regulate for the benefit of the people we serve.
People at the heart of fitness to practise
Alongside a focus on keeping people safe, we're committed to people being at the heart of everything we do.
We're providing better information and more support for patients and families, as well as a rolling programme of training and development for our employees.
We’re also exploring how the public voice can be used at each stage of the fitness to practise proceedings.
We’ll be getting together a group of stakeholders to consider how we might make changes to the fitness to practise process to ensure that people are truly at the heart of our work and that we are fair to everyone involved.
Alongside this, the Fitness to Practise Careline has been set up which is a new support service for the professionals on our register going through a fitness to practise investigation.
Our new approach to fitness to practise promotes a culture of openness and learning, and not punishing people for past events.
We want to give the professionals on our register the chance to remedy and address any concerns that have been raised with us.
We'll be providing new remediation guidance to help the professionals on our register better understand how they can demonstrate that they are safe to practise after a complaint has been raised against them.
This might include information such as their reflection on what has gone wrong, extra training they have undertaken, or the views of their employer or other healthcare professionals on their practice since the incident.
How these changes will help
The changes we’re making will help us to reduce our caseload quickly and fairly, and help us make the right decisions at the right time.
We're carrying out these changes in a planned and collaborative way. We've listened and engaged with people to develop these changes, and we're delivering them in the order in which we think they will have the greatest impact for those involved in the fitness to practice process.
The changes we’re currently making are within the limits of our existing legislation. But we could do even more if we had greater flexibility.
That’s why we’re currently working with the government to modernise the legal framework that governs what we do and how we do it.