In January 2012, the (then) health secretary Andrew Lansley commissioned the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) to carry out a strategic review of nursing regulatory body, the NMC. The final report, published on 3 July 2012, concluded problems at the NMC existed 'at every level, in every system'.
Key criticisms included 'cultural problems built up over a number of years', 'poor planning, an absence of clear decision-making processes, unreliable management information and a collective failure to link activity with cost'.
Many have since called for the NMC's abolition, but it is unlikely transferring the NMC's staff and functions to another body would solve problems overnight; many of the problems existed, to a lesser degree, in its predecessor body, the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health.
The NMC has acknowledged its catastrophic failures and states it is committed to improving sufficiently to provide 'excellent services' to the public and registrant nurses and midwives by 2014.
What should a good healthcare regulator be doing for its registrants? The activities of effective regulators can be broken down into four key functions: