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NMC 'distracted' from protection role

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) stands accused of becoming “distracted” from protecting patients by campaigning for the statutory regulation of HCAs.

An interim report published by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) as part of its strategic review of the NMC found the regulator's patient protection remit, while recognised by staff, has not been translated into a “clear statement of strategic direction and prioritisation”.

The CHRE said the NMC cannot afford to undertake additional projects - such as the creation of an index of nursing students or campaigning for statutory HCA regulation thanks its fitness to practice (FTP) backlog and ever-increasing referral numbers.

“These ambitions for expansion and influence have caused the
NMC to be distracted from its core functions,” said the report.

“They also serve to confuse registrants and external stakeholders about its regulatory role.”

As well as a suggested increase in NMC registration fees, the CHRE has also recommended the NMC strengthens its council by employing a member with a financial qualification to help it oversee its finances effectively.

However, the CHRE did commend the effort being put in by NMC staff and their willingness to learn from recent events in taking the NMC forward.

Commenting on the report, Professor Judith Ellis, Interim Chair of the NMC, said the regulatory had accepted all the CHRE's findings “in their entirety” and failed to rule out the suggestion of an increase in registration fees.

“Moving forward, it is clear that the NMC must be a very different organisation, committed to effective regulation and putting the needs of patients first,” she said.

“We must be an efficient, effective and economical regulator, and deliver public protection within our means. Together, the Council and executive of the NMC must have an unremitting focus on improvement, so that we can become a regulator that commands greater confidence of the public, nurses and midwives.”

Question: Will the NMC be justified in raising registration fees to cope with rising demand?