The backlog of disciplinary cases for nurses and midwives will take more than two years to clear, the NMC's chief executive Jackie Smith has admitted.
Giving oral evidence to the Health Select Committee last week Ms Smith, who took up her role earlier this month, acknowledged the backlog was 'unacceptably long' but added the council would need to be realistic about what could be achieved.
The regulator has 4,500 cases to clear, 1,400 of which have yet to have an interim hearing.
Health committee chairman Stephen Dorrell said having a regulator in 'crisis' was particularly worrying for the public, given ongoing controversy about standards in the nursing profession.
The news came just days after the DH offered the NMC a £20 million grant to help it deal with such challenges, but as IN was going to press the NMC had yet to decide whether to accept the money.
RCN chief executive and general secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said: 'It is clear that the NMC has been facing a number of significant challenges for some time and we would urge the NMC Council to accept the offer as soon as possible. 'We believe the proposed independent audit of the financial basis and assumptions behind the proposed increase still needs to be carried out swiftly, and its recommendations taken on board.
He added that the RCN remained committed to working with the NMC to help address the issues it faces. 'An effective, fit for purpose nursing regulator which can effectively uphold professional standards, is vital for the public, patients and the nursing profession,' he said.