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NMC consults on rule changes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of processes

17 April 2014

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has today launched a consultation on proposed changes to its Fitness to Practise (FtP) Rules and the Education, Registration and Registration Appeals Rules which would help start the process of “sweeping away its inflexible and outdated decision making processes”[1].  

The need for changes to the NMC’s legislation has previously been endorsed by the Prime Minister and these proposals would start that process. The proposed changes would introduce Case Examiners,  give the NMC the ability to review “no case to answer” decisions as part of the FtP process, change the composition of registration appeal panels and allow the NMC to request and verify registration information.

Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC Jackie Smith said: 

“The proposed changes to our rules will help us towards fulfilling our ambition of becoming a more efficient and effective regulator while ensuring the protection of the public.

“The introduction of Case Examiners and the changes to the composition of registration appeal panels would enable us to speed up key processes that impact on registrants.

“These proposals would also allow us to review ‘no case to answer decisions’ made early on in the FtP process. This change is important to ensure the protection of the public and would bring us in line with other healthcare regulators”.

Each proposed change has a corresponding proposed amendment to the Nursing and Midwifery Order that will enable the rule change to be implemented. The proposed changes to the Order are contained in the Department of Health consultation found here, which is running in parallel to the NMC’s consultation. 

The Department of Health consultation also consults on clarifying the ability of the NMC to make striking off orders in health and lack of competence cases.

 

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Notes for editors

1.   We are the nursing and midwifery regulator for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Islands. We exist to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. We set standards of education, training, conduct and performance for nurses and midwives, and hold the register of those who have qualified and meet those standards. We provide guidance to help nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date and uphold our professional standards. We have clear and transparent processes to investigate and deal with nurses and midwives who fall short of our standards.

2.   The Department of Health consultation can be found here.

3.   Case Examiners: Currently, the Investigating Committee panels, made up of both lay and registrant members, make decisions on whether or not there is a case to answer for a nurse or midwife where an allegation has been made that their fitness to practise may be impaired. The NMC is proposing to introduce Case Examiners to carry out this function. Other regulators such as the GMC already use Case Examiners and they have demonstrated significant benefits.

4.   Reviewing 'no case to answer' decisions: The NMC is currently unable to review ‘no case to answer’ decisions made by the Investigating Committee panels. Under these proposals the NMC’s Registrar would be able to review these decisions if they believe it is in the public interest, that the decision reached is materially flawed or if new evidence is submitted. This power would enable the NMC to ensure the protection of patients and the public, and would bring the NMC into line with other healthcare regulators who already have this power.

5.   Composition of registration appeal panels: The current NMC Rules state that an NMC Council member must sit as Chair on registration appeal panels. The NMC is proposing to remove Council members from this duty, which would be fulfilled by an existing Chair of a practice committee. The quorum and balance of lay and registrant members of appeal panels would remain the same. This would maintain a clear separation of duties between the operational and governance functions of the NMC to ensure impartiality and avoid any suggestion of perceived or actual bias.

6.   Requesting and verifying registration information: Under the current legislation, the NMC does not have a general power to request and verify the information in all types of registration application. Instead, the powers available vary depending on the type of registration application being made. The NMC will soon be required under EU law[2] to ensure that all registered nurses and midwives have an appropriate indemnity arrangement in place for their practice. The NMC therefore requires, and is seeking, amendments to its legislation to give it the ability to ask for and verify certain information in order to comply with the provisions proposed in the recent Department of Health consultation. The NMC currently has no such ability to be able to comply with those provisions.

7.   For media enquiries, please contact Madeleine Childs at madeleine.childs@nmc-uk.org or by calling 020 7681 5936.