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NMC says sorry for failing 'at every level'

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is failing on “every level and in every system”, a review has found.

Much of the blame has been placed at the door of the regulator's leaders.

Following a review into the NMC, which began in January 2012, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) has today (3 July) published its final report.

The body added poor financial stewardship, a passive, hierarchal culture of 'resigned resilience' and problems with the organisation's management and business systems to the growing list of weaknesses within the NMC.

This follows on from the weaknesses identified in the CHRE's interim report in April 2012. They were: governance, leadership, decision-making and operational management.

“Our interim and final reports highlight serious deficiencies in a number of key areas,” said the report.

“Chief among its deficiencies are poor planning, an absence of clear decision making processes, unreliable management information, and a collective failure to link activity with cost.”

The CHRE also criticised the NMC for its failure to address its shortfalls in its performance in fitness to practice proceedings.

It urged the regulator to invest more funds into the FtP process to allow a more “streamlined” approach to delivery.

Trade union Unite's lead professional officer has claimed the “hard-hitting” report should provide a “serious wake-up call” for the organisation.

"The CHRE report is a searing indictment that highlights a dysfunctional organisation which appears not to be fit for purpose in regulating the nursing professions and ensuring that the public has confidence in the regulatory framework,” said Unite's Obi Amadi.

Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) described the CHRE's findings as “concerning” and said many nurses have been losing faith in the NMC for “quite some time”.

Acting Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC Jackie Smith apologised for the “substantial failings” highlighted by the review.

“The strategic review report and annual performance review report together make difficult reading for the NMC,” she said.

“They highlight substantial failings in the delivery of our regulatory functions and in the management of our organisation. We recognise the failings that CHRE have set out in their reports, and we are sorry. It is clear that the NMC has not delivered effective and efficient regulation, and we are committed to putting that right.”

The CHRE said it was “encouraged” by the NMC's efforts to “refocus” it work following its interim review and admitted there is potential for turning the organisation around, providing a “clear sighted” council, chair and chief executive are appointed.