Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has met PSA standards but fail on requirement to process fitness to practise complaints fairly and proportionately.

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has published its annual performance review of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. The NMC review forms part of the PSA’s review of each of the statutory health and social care regulators to assess whether they are meeting the PSAs eighteen Standards of Good Regulation.

The NMC’s performance has met 17 of the 18 Standards of Good Regulation. The NMC did not meet Standard 15 which requires its process for examining and investigating fitness to practise complaints to be fair, proportionate and to deal with cases as quickly as is consistent with a fair resolution.

The PSA report stated:

“The NMC has taken longer in this review period to reach decisions about fitness to practise cases. This is particularly concerning in light of the further delays that have been caused by the NMC’s need to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, which also impacted on the final two weeks of this review period.

“We also identified continuing concerns about the NMC’s drafting of charges and failures to investigate or obtain and present relevant evidence. In some cases we considered that the decision reached was insufficient to protect the public. While we found these issues in a small number of cases in the context of the NMC’s caseload, they have significant implications for the fairness of the process.

“We have therefore concluded that this Standard is not met.”

The NMC has met the Standard requiring all parties to a complaint to be supported to participate effectively in the process. It had not met this Standard for the previous three years.

Responding to the publication of the PSA review, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, our Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“Looking back to 2019 – 2020 is inevitably influenced by our more recent experience of supporting the UK health and care system response to the global coronavirus pandemic.  The skill and dedication of nursing and midwifery professionals has been rightly highlighted and applauded as our Stories from the Pandemic show. The importance of our regulatory role to protect the public and promote public confidence in nursing and midwifery has never been more important.

“Today’s review of our performance from April 2019 to March 2020 pre-dates the coronavirus pandemic but emphasises some important themes that have influenced our work in the last year.  I welcome the recognition from the PSA that we had improved during that time and I agree with them that focusing on the timeliness of our fitness to practise activity is essential.

“Any delays to our processes have a huge impact on everyone involved. Covid-19 has exacerbated the increase in our fitness to practise caseload and it is our number one priority to tackle in the coming year.

“Work has already begun with new colleagues joining us and improvement initiatives underway, for example, making sure our screening process is efficient as it can be and supporting employers to resolve cases locally where possible. We will be reporting progress in public to our Council.

“The future continues to present challenges for nursing and midwifery professionals and for the NMC.  Given everything we’ve all gone through in the last year, I know we’ll be able to meet those challenges and continue to make progress.  I’m grateful to my colleagues for their hard work and determination that we play our part in making sure safe, effective and kind nursing and midwifery care is available for all.”

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