NMC Audit Raises Concerns

New Audit Of Organisation Has Found A Number Of Issues

31.03.2014

An audit conducted by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has raised a number of concerns with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Between August and September 2013, the PSA audited 100 cases that the NMC was processing as part of its fitness to practice (FTP) scheme, which handles disciplinary matters among nurses accused of negligence or misconduct.

During this process, the PSA raised a number of concerns about how the institution performed.

The main issue identified was the lack of progress in cases involving nurses and healthcare assistants from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where issues often remained unresolved for months or years at a time.

Failures among NMC FTP investigators to follow the body's own procedures and guidance was also an issue that the PSA recommended should be looked into, as it is important all cases are given the same due process so that they are fair.

Customer service was another area highlighted for improvement, and NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith accepted there is still a long way to go before it operates as it should.

"We know that there is still more we need to do. However, it recognises the progress we have made and confirms the commitment we made to improving performance," Ms Smith explained to the BBC.

However, Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, was less pleased with the findings and described the lack of progress at the NMC as "deeply worrying".

"Delays in processing hearing cases and seeking interim orders would result in incompetent staff continuing to provide poor care to patients. The NMC is letting down those patients who have received substandard care," Ms Murphy said.

Campaigner Julie Bailey of Cure the NHS went even further than Ms Murphy and described the NMC as "not fit for purpose", adding that the organisation had failed the public on too many occasions for it to be given a free pass in regards to poor performance.

Expert Opinion
It is undoubtedly worrying to see concerns raised regarding the NMC, which has a huge responsibility to ensure that those who are practicing in the NHS have the skills and ability to provide patients with the right level of care.

"The safety of patients must always come first, which is why there is a need to ensure that those in nursing are able to provide the necessary standard of support to those in their care.

"It is vital that the safeguards and systems in place to ensure this is the case are always fit for purpose."
Lisa Jordan, Partner