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'Troubled' NMC starting to improve

Progress for Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has been “fragile” over the past year, leading the Health Select Committee to express concerns. 

In the yearly progress report the Health Select Committee warned the NMC not to become distracted from improving its core functions by new challenges. 

The length of time the nursing regulator takes to finish fitness to practise cases has been an “enduring concern”, the committee said. 

But the NMC has pledged to resolve fitness to practice cases in 15 months, and if legislation is changed, the NMC believes the target period could be further reduced to 12 months. 

The committee has also asked for a progress update on the nurse revalidation system which the NMC claims will be introduced before the end of 2015. 

Health Committee chair Stephen Dorrell MP said: “The NMC has had a troubled recent history, and while we welcome the evidence that there has been an improvement in its performance, it is essential that the new challenges it now faces do not cause the NMC to take its eye off the ball.

“Following the publication of the Francis report, all aspects of healthcare are facing increasing scrutiny; the pressure is therefore on for the NMC to demonstrate to an increasingly skeptical public that it can function effectively to underwrite clinical standards.

“The committee will review the progress made by the NMC with its plans for revalidation during Spring 2014 and we shall conduct a further full review in Autumn 2014”.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said: “It will undoubtedly be a challenging year for the NMC, which must continue making improvements such as introducing revalidation, without losing focus on reducing the backlog of fitness to practice cases and without further fee rises. 

“We are pleased to see the NMC has taken the findings of the Francis Inquiry seriously and we look forward to working with them to help them improve and provide a system of regulation which is effective for both patients and registrants.”

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive said: “We welcome the report and are pleased that the committee has recognised the progress we have made.

“We remain focused on delivering our key objectives, which has enabled us to make progress to date. We have set ourselves a challenging business plan for 2014­-2015 and we are confident that we are on the right track.”