It has been a fairly tumultuous month or so for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). It has been forced to apologise for its conduct over the Morecambe Bay hospital scandal, been criticised by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for failing to reach the core standard in Fitness to Practise (FtP) cases, and now it is to lose its chief executive. Jackie Smith, who has led the organisation over six eventful years and overseen the initially controversial introduction of revalidation, is to leave her post at the end of July.
Ms Smith has not always cut a popular figure with nurses. During her tenure, registration fees have risen by 58% at a time when NHS pay has been painfully squeezed, and the introduction of revalidation was widely criticised (although many of the fears around it have proved to be unfounded).
Nevertheless, her energy and devotion to high standards in nursing cannot be denied. And there is plenty of evidence that the NMC’s current direction of travel is the right one. The PSA’s report acknowledges that the organisation is improving, with 23 of their 24 standards being met. The NMC’s new standards for nursing skills and knowledge (released last month amid all the other excitement) provide a comprehensive and challenging vision for the future of the profession.
So the next leader will have some big shoes to fill. But also perhaps a great opportunity to renew and reinvigorate the healthcare professions’ biggest regulator. Where do you think the NMC should go next? Get in touch with us and let us know your thoughts.