The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) is failing to meet key standards in its handling of Fitness to Practise cases according to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
This was the outcome NMC’s performance review for 2017-2018 undertaken by the Professional Standards Authority. The PSA concluded that whilst the NMC achieved 22 out of 24 core standards, it fell short in its transparency and fairness of Fitness to Practise cases.
Fitness to Practise cases
The PSA report raised issues including the NMC’s failure to present “important” evidence and new findings in Fitness to Practise cases that suggest the NMC does not always take complaints from patients and the public as seriously as it should and which had “significant implications for the fairness, transparency and focus on public protection of the process”.
It found ongoing concerns about the fairness and transparency of Fitness to Practise cases raising in particular concerns around the support and information the NMC provides to those involved.
The PSA found instances where the NMC had not obtained or presented important evidence” at final Fitness to Practise hearings,
Despite the in Fitness to Practise concerns raised by the report, it acknowledged the nursing regulator was making extensive efforts to improve performance in these key areas including launching a new Public Support Service, providing more information about Fitness to Practise cases and setting up a new enquiries and complaints team.
However, it said much of this work was still in progress and it was too early to judge the impact.
Personal independent payment (PIP) assessment nurses
Another area of concern raised by the PSA report related to about personal independent payment (PIP) assessment nurses.
It identified numerous issues with the way the NMC handled complaints about nurses involved in assessing people with disabilities for benefits payments, which, it said “…created a barrier to vulnerable people raising potentially serious concerns.”
An audit of complaints and cases involving PIP nurses revealed similar issues to the lessons learned review – the report into the NMC’s handling of the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal.
The audit was the result of complaints and concerns raised by the public a advocacy groups about NMC decisions not to take forward complaints about PIP nurses.
The report found that the NMC reported to complainants that there was no credible evidence to pursue complaints. NMC figures showed just 2 out of 83 such cases in 2017-18 had gone on to be investigated in more detail.
Notwithstanding this, the PSA’s audit of 28 of these cases found numerous concerns including the fact NMC did not consider all of the concerns raised and given appropriate weight to their evidence.
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