The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will be able to resolve fitness-to-practice cases ‘more quickly and proportionally’ as new rules come into force.
On 28 July, the NMC was granted new powers which will mean only the most serious cases move on to a full hearing. It gives the council abilities which have been long appealed for by chief executive Jackie Smith, since they have been granted to the doctors’ General Medical Council since 2003.
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It will see nurses caught identified in matters of a serious concern issues with a warning rather than process if they show ‘insight, remediation, and no risk to patients is apparent’.
The NMC will also be able to agree measures such as additional training with a midwife or nurse to address areas of practice which cause a clinical risk to patients.
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In cases where there is a minor breach of the code, nurses will be offered private advice to help them keep their practice safe.
‘This is the only way in which real change can be delivered,’ said Ms Smith. ‘The legislation had been long-awaited, particularly as doctors’ regulator the GMC has had it since 2003.
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‘While the changes are welcome and go a long way to help modernise fitness-to-practise arrangements, the government needs to prioritise much-needed regulatory reform.’
As part of the changes the NMC’s two fitness-to-practice committees – the Conduct and Competence Committee and the Health Committee – will merge into a single fitness-to-practice committee with the aim of further reducing delays.