NMC welcomes milestone on journey to better, safer regulation for people and communities across the UK

Published on 17 February 2023

The Government has today announced a significant step forward in reforming the legislation that underpins the UK’s health and care professional regulators. The NMC welcomes this eagerly anticipated important milestone on the road to reform.

As the independent regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK, and nursing associates in England, it’s essential we have the legislation we need to regulate well. With the right tools, we can better support nursing and midwifery professionals, the core of the UK’s health and care services, helping them to deliver safe, effective and kind care for the public.

With more modern, flexible legislation, the NMC will be able to:

  • have a register of professionals that’s clearer and easier for people to understand
  • strengthen its quality assurance of nursing and midwifery education
  • make sure that people using the title ‘nurse’ are on its register
  • act more rapidly to protect the public if someone can’t meet the required standards of proficiency and conduct.

Today’s publications from the Department of Health and Social Care include its response to the 2021 consultation Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public. It has also published draft new legislation that will allow the General Medical Council to regulate anaesthesia and physician associates. While focused on medical associate professions, this legislation will act as a template for the future professional regulation for nurses, midwives, nursing associates and other healthcare professionals. Together, this is the clearest indication yet of what new legislation guiding the NMC’s work will look like.

Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“We’re here to promote and uphold high standards of nursing and midwifery practice, for the benefit of everyone in the UK who uses health and care services. To make sure we can keep doing this well into the future, we need modern legislation: our current framework is more than 20 years old.

“We’re working hard to prepare for reform, collaborating with the public, nursing and midwifery professionals, and our partners in health and social care. We look forward to working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to develop these changes and put them into place as quickly as possible to benefit the public and communities we serve.”

Professor Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland, said:

“I welcome the launch of the consultation. Seeking views across the UK is a vital first step in bringing these roles into regulation, and is just the first step in realising years of cooperative work across the four nations toward the wider modernisation of regulation for the registered health professions.”

Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, said:

“As CNO for Wales I am committed to a systematic approach to multi-disciplinary workforce planning which considers the needs of the health and care system. I believe that regulation should be proportionately aligned to meet those needs and I support the commitment to modernising regulation. This is an important milestone in delivering key reforms that will enable healthcare professional regulators to further protect the public.”

Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said:

“I continue to support the Government’s commitment to modernising regulation to ensure the introduction of greater flexibility and consistency across regulators. This consultation is the first step in an important piece of work to confirm that the model of regulation for healthcare professionals will continue to protect patients and support our health services and health professionals.”

Maria McIlgorm, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, said:

“As Chief Nursing Officer in Northern Ireland, I very much welcome the programme of work concerning the modernisation of healthcare regulation across the UK. Professionalism is at the heart of everything we do. We need to ensure that professional regulation is current and responsive to the needs of our patients, professionals and employers. This will help to futureproof the provision of safe and effective care and uphold the high standards on which our practice is based.”

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