Legislative requirement for regulating education standards

An overview of the legal requirements

The Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 ('the Order') requires us to establish and maintain a register and, in doing so, to prescribe the requirements to be met as to the evidence of good health and good character in order to satisfy the Registrar that an applicant is capable of safe and effective practice as a nurse or midwife (article 5(2) (b)).

The requirements for registration are specified further in rules 5(1)(a), 5(1)(e) and 6, for renewal of registration in rule 13(1)(a), and for readmission to the register, rule 15 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Education, Registration and Registration Appeals) Rules 2004, as amended.

We have exercised the permissive power in article 15(1)(b) of the Order relating to the good health and good character of applicants entering into and remaining on education programmes that will lead to registration. This means that with regard to education and training the order allows us to establish the requirements to be satisfied for admission to, and continued participation in, such education and training, which may include requirements as to good health and good character (article 15(1)(b)).

Self-regulation

Nursing and midwifery are self-regulating professions. An important part of self-regulation is knowing what is right and what is important. All nurses and midwives are required to keep to our rules and standards, which include the Code.

Nursing and midwifery students are expected to work towards being able to apply the Code when they register.

The rules on good health and good character require nurses and midwives to declare their fitness for entry to the register, on renewal of registration and readmission to the register. A supporting declaration from a third party is required on application for first entry to a part of the register, or when returning to the register.

The law on disability discrimination

The law protects people with a wide range of disabilities and health conditions from unlawful discrimination. We have reviewed our guidance in light of the Equality Act 2010, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales, and the disability discrimination legislation in Northern Ireland.

It is unlawful not to make a reasonable adjustment for a person with a disability. Reasonable adjustments can be made to practices, policies and procedures. It can also involve providing auxiliary aids and services.

We must make sure that our registration processes are fair and do not discriminate against people with disabilities. At the same time we need to make sure that we are meeting our legal responsibilities to protect the health and wellbeing of people using or needing the services of nurses or midwives.

We do not discriminate against people with disabilities by, for example, having ‘blanket bans’ on particular impairments or health conditions. Our application processes for registration or renewal of registration are open to all who meet our requirements. Where people declare disabilities or health conditions, impairment of fitness to practise is considered on an individual basis. One person who has a particular health condition or disability may be affected differently to another person.

A reasonable adjustment which enables one person with a disability to practise effectively as a nurse or midwife may not work for everyone. Therefore, it is important for each individual’s case to be considered in the context of their circumstances.