Concerns raised over the ‘fairness and transparency’ of NMC Fitness to Practice cases

While the Nursing and Midwifery Council achieved 22 out of 24 core standards, it fell short in two main areas.

Matt Bodell
24 April 2019
nursing and midwifery council

The NMC has ‘made progress’ but is still failing to meet important Fitness to Practice standards.

A review of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) found the regulator was failing to meet key standards in its handling of Fitness to Practise (FtP) cases.

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The PSA found that while the regulator was achieving 22 out of 24 core standards it fell short in two main areas – the transparency and fairness of FtP cases and keeping the involved parties involved in FtP cases updated.

Concerns were also raised over how the NMC handled complaints about registrants who have conducted Personal Independent Payment (PIP) assessments. It said; “the NMC did not systematically consider all the concerns raised by complainants, relied on the views of employers as reasons to close cases, without proper scrutiny and did not obtain sufficient evidence to reach its decisions.”

It was noted that the NMC had made progress on addressing concerns around how the organisation communicates with families and patients – which included setting up its public support service. The NMC is also said to be looking at the “tone of voice” it uses when corresponding with members of the public.

The regulators new chief executive has promised sweeping changes across the organisation – promising they can ‘be nice and regulate well’.

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The PSA said it was “pleased” the regulator had instituted a plan of work to address the concerns raised but recognised it may take some time to implement.

‘We have not always got things right’.

Responding to the review, Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said; “Today’s report reiterates just how important it is to treat people with fairness and respect and to ensure we consider all concerns raised in referrals to us. We know that in the past we have not always got those things right.

“Encouragingly, the report recognises the significant progress we have made in more recent years, and how, through the introduction of our new public support service and our changing approach to fitness to practise we continue to improve, ensuring people are at the heart of our work.

“I’m sorry that our approach to a small number of PIP related cases fell short of what is expected. Our failure to fully address the concerns of some people making complaints and the lack of clarity in our decision making was not good enough.  Since 2018 we have taken action. This includes additional training for those making and communicating case decisions, as well as a new quality assurance approach to the way we initially review cases.

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“The report also highlights the positive impact some of our key initiatives are making in supporting better, safer care, including the development of new education standards and our review of overseas registration requirements.

“But we’re not complacent and know that there is much more we can and must do. We’re grateful to the PSA for carrying out this review and for their feedback. We will continue to address the issues raised in this report and the PSA’s lessons learned review and build on the good progress that has been made over the last twelve months as we embark on the development of new five year strategy.”

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