NMC welcomes DH consultation on changes to its legislation

21 April 2016

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) today welcomed the launch of the Department of Health’s consultation on a number of long awaited changes to the regulator’s legal framework.

The changes are designed to modernise midwifery regulation by removing supervision from the NMC’s legislation. They will also allow the NMC to improve how it deals with those who fall below the required standards expected of nurses and midwives. The NMC has been pressing for significant changes to its legislation for several years, as its existing framework is out of date and costly.

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar Jackie Smith said:

“We are delighted that the Government has opened its consultation around changes to our legislation and would encourage anyone interested to respond to it. We have been pushing consistently for a more modern legal framework because, as an organisation which is there to protect the public, we know it will make the NMC more efficient and cost effective.”

Health Minister Ben Gummer said:

“I want the NHS to be the safest healthcare service in the world and this means making the midwifery and nursing professions as safe as they can be. We have learnt from the tragic failings at Morecambe Bay and through this consultation we will be modernising midwifery supervision which means that when things go wrong, lessons can be learnt at a local level. The consultation will also further improve the way the NMC deals with patient safety concerns by making fitness to practise processes more efficient.”

The consultation is the result of several years of continued pressure by the NMC for legislative change as well as its Council’s decision in January 2015 to seek the removal of midwifery supervision from the NMC’s legislation. Last summer, the Secretary of State for Health confirmed that the Government would make the necessary changes to the legislation governing the regulation of midwives.

In addition to removing midwifery supervision, there are several proposed changes relating to our fitness to practise function being sought. If agreed, the new powers will allow us to conclude some cases against nurses and midwives at an earlier stage while still taking the most serious cases through to a hearing. By reducing the number of cases that go to a costly and often lengthy hearing the NMC can ensure that they can protect the public in the most cost effective and efficient way.

 

-Ends- 

Notes for editors

1.   The Nursing and Midwifery Council exists to protect the public. We do this by ensuring that only those who meet our requirements are allowed to practise as a nurse or midwife in the UK. We take action if concerns are raised about whether a nurse or midwife is fit to practise.

The NMC regulates the UK’s 692,000 nurses and midwives.

2.   The proposed changes to fitness to practise include:

  • The ability to conclude cases without going to a full hearing by issuing warnings or advice at the investigation stage and to agree undertakings up until a final hearing.
  • Merging two of the existing statutory Practice Committees to streamline the process making it faster and more cost efficient.
  • Removal of the current inflexibility around location of hearing which prevents us from holding them in the most convenient and cost effective place.
  • All interim order reviews would be held at six month intervals unless requested sooner by the nurse or midwife.
  • The High Court will have the new power to substitute an interim order with a different interim order which is more proportionate when balancing fairness to the nurse or midwife against protecting the public.
  • Panels would have the discretion to direct that a substantive order does not need to be reviewed before its expiry in cases where there is no ongoing risk to the public.
  • Removing the requirement within the current legislation for the NMC to notify specified persons, including governments of the four countries, when a nurse or midwife has been referred to a fitness to practise panel before any decision is made.

3.   For media enquiries, please contact Hannah Schraer on 020 7681 5936 or email media@nmc-uk.org.