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Nursing and Midwifery Council in UK publish consultation in relation to the proposed overhaul of its fitness to practise process

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By Gary Rice, Brian Ormond, Aidan Healy & Niall Sexton


Published 26 April 2018


 On 4 April 2018, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (the “NMC”) launched a public consultation in relation to its plans to overhaul its approach to dealing with complaints about nurses and midwives.

The NMC is seeking views on its proposed new strategy 'Ensuring patient safety, enabling professionalism: a new strategic direction for fitness to practise'.

The NMC has proposed changes to its fitness to practise function which the NMC believes will help it to “protect the public in a more effective, proportionate and consistent way.”

The proposals are based on ten key principles which relate to the purpose of hearings, the need to give nurses the chance to remediate, assisting employers to deal with complaints locally and the importance of considering the context of a case when deciding what action to take.

The NMC has emphasised that openness and learning are key to patient safety and the NMC want “...to encourage nurses and midwives to speak up at the earliest opportunity when things go wrong and see our fitness to practise process as an opportunity to learn and reflect.”

Further, as part of its strategy, the NMC has indicated that where there is no dispute about what happened or what sanction should be applied, it proposes to conclude cases without the need for a public hearing.

Jackie Smith, Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, said:

Where nurses and midwives speak up early and learn from their mistakes we want to see fewer hearings and cases resolved much more quickly.

We want to move away from a process which is often adversarial, cumbersome and distressing to one which supports a learning culture where nurses and midwives can be open about what happened.

Our proposals aren’t about excluding anyone, rather we want to reduce the impact on all those involved whilst putting patient safety at the heart of what we do.

This isn’t a done deal, we’re eager to hear not only from professionals and employers but importantly from members of the public about our proposed new approach.”

For further information on the consultation and the proposed changes to the NMC’s fitness to practise process, please click here.