We were asked by the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) to undertake a review of the effectiveness of its governance arrangements and its conduct, competence and health functions. We carried out this review in March and April 2012.
The Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ)
The NCNZ regulates nurse practitioners (expert nurses who work within a specific area of practice incorporating advanced knowledge and skills), registered nurses (who utilise knowledge and complex nursing judgment to assess health needs, to advise and support and to provide care) and enrolled nurses (those who work under the direction of a registered nurse to deliver nursing care to people across the life span in community, hospital and residential settings).
There are currently some 50,000 nurses with annual practising certificates registered with the NCNZ. The NCNZ’s role and responsibilities are similar to those of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and other UK healthcare professional regulators. In brief, it has five main functions, which are to:
- Set and promote standards that nurses must meet before and after they are admitted to the register
- Maintain a register of those nurses who meet the NCNZ’s standards. Only registered practitioners with a current practising certificate are allowed to work as nurses
- Take appropriate action where a nurse’s conduct, competence or health has been called into question
- Accredit and monitor educational institutions and degrees, course of studies, or programmes
- Recognise, accredit and set programmes to develop the competence of nurses.
As part of the review we read through a range of documentary evidence, spoke with the management team, the staff, the Council and external stakeholders and undertook an audit of a random sample of their conduct, competence and health cases.
Our report sets out our findings in relation to the NCNZ’s governance arrangements and its conduct, health and competence processes. It then moves on to discuss our views on what aspects of their legislation the NCNZ could consider commenting on under the current review of the legislation and the matters it could consider as part of the work being undertaken by the NZ government on its plans to merge regulatory authorities.
We found that overall the NCNZ has satisfactory governance arrangements in place and that it generally has effective processes for handling cases under the conduct, health and competence procedures, reaches appropriate decisions which protect the public and provides a good level of service to those who are involved.
We published our report and the NCNZ’s response to our report in October 2012.