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Regulator says NMC leaders have failed

Leadership has failed nurses, midwives and public – concludes CHRE

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 03 July 2012

Successive leaders of the Nursing and Midwifery Council have failed in their duties to nurses, midwives and the public, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence has concluded. The CHRE reported that financial stewardship at the NMC, as well as its governance, have been poor – but that signs of positive change have begun to appear.

The Department of Health commissioned the CHRE strategic review of the NMC in January, and an interim report in April described some of the challenges that the NMC had faced. In the CHRE’s final review, published this morning, the regulator said: “Our interim report highlighted weaknesses in governance, leadership, decision making and operational management.

“In our final report, additionally we identify poor financial stewardship, a passive, hierarchical culture of ‘resigned resilience’, and provide further detail on the problems with the NMC’s management and business systems.”

The review found that confusion over the NMC’s regulatory purpose, lack of clear, consistent strategic direction, unbalanced working relationships and inadequate business systems were at the heart of its failure to succeed.

But the regulator also commended “the effort that is being put in by the Council, the interim Chair, interim Chief Executive and staff across the NMC along with their willingness to learn from recent events and to build the NMC’s future as an effective regulator”.

It said: “By the time this review had concluded there were some encouraging signs that foundations for change were beginning to be put in place.

“The NMC must finally leave its past behind and transform itself into a modern, effective regulator that protects the public well and so inspires public and professional confidence.”

The NMC’s acting chief executive and registrar, Jackie Smith (pictured), said: “The strategic review report and annual performance review report together make difficult reading for the NMC. They highlight substantial failings in the delivery of our regulatory functions and in the management of our organisation. We recognise the failings that CHRE have set out in their reports, and we are sorry. It is clear that the NMC has not delivered effective and efficient regulation, and we are committed to putting that right.

“We would like to thank CHRE for their acknowledgement of the progress we have made since [April], but we recognise we have more to do. The Council and executive of the NMC will now want to study the findings and recommendations of these reports in detail, and put in place further plans to address the weaknesses that CHRE have highlighted.”

Nursing unions welcomed the review. The RCN’s chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “It is extremely concerning to read that the NMC has failings right across the board and we know that many of our members have been losing confidence in the regulator for some time.

“The NMC must be able to deliver its core functions of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the public, and promoting high standards of professional conduct across the UK. It is vital that the NMC now appoints credible, respected leaders who can tackle the problems so clearly highlighted by the CHRE.”

Gail Adams, UNISON head of nursing said: “We welcome the CHRE’s report, and call for its recommendations to be implemented in full with urgency.”

She added: “The current interim leadership team at the NMC is doing a good job of clearing up a mess that should never been made to begin with.”

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