We are pleased to report that we have seen a significant improvement in the NMC’s performance this year. Though it did not meet one Standard and we identified some concerns for other Standards, we recognise the progress made over the last year.
Guidance and standards: standards and guidance are published in an accessible format
The NMC’s new Code on professional standards of practice and behaviour came into effect in March 2015. The Code was awarded a Crystal mark by the Plain English campaign. An easy-read version of the leaflet explaining the Code is available. The NMC launched its new website in April 2015 designed to make information more accessible for visitors with content now arranged by subject, rather than audience, and also written in Plain English. BrowseAloud technology is also available on the website.
Registration: everyone can easily access information about registrants
Last year we had concerns about registration errors and concluded that this Standard was not met. This year we conducted checks on a random sample and identified no errors or inaccuracies during that exercise. However, earlier in the year, we had spotted one error and considered holding a targeted review, as the error had public protection implications. The NMC corrected the error and told us that they would investigate. We concluded that, whilst unsatisfactory, identifying a single error was not a sufficient reason to decide that this Standard was not met. We will, however, monitor performance in this area closely over the coming year.
Fitness to practise: information about cases is securely retained
In 2014/15 due to a number of data breaches and concerns around information security, this Standard was not met. For 2015/16 the NMC has met this Standard. Though we saw evidence of one significant breach, we appreciate how hard the NMC has worked to improve its performance in this area, including making progress on actions set out in its information security plan, continuously monitoring risks, and taking appropriate action where risks are identified.
Registration: registrants maintain the standards required to stay fit to practise
Revalidation for nurses and midwives was introduced this year and we recognise the NMC’s efforts to prepare, implement and communicate about revalidation, as well as its plans to evaluate it. Throughout the year risks associated with introducing revalidation were monitored and actions taken to mitigate them. The NMC communicated and engaged with stakeholders. We received positive feedback from third-party organisations about this and how the NMC had taken their views on-board. A revalidation microsite was launched in January 2016 and in May 2016, the NMC reported that 90.5% of their registrants due to revalidate in April 2016 had successfully renewed their registration through revalidation.
Fitness to practise: cases are dealt with as quickly as possible
This Standard has not been met this year. In 2014/15 the NMC met this Standard after making good progress to reduce median timeframes for case progression and reducing the number of its ‘older’ cases. However, we continued to have concerns in some areas, including the rate of adjournments of hearings. This year we carried out a targeted review of this Standard. We were concerned that the rate of adjournments had not improved. There had also been an increase in the median time taken to reach a final decision by case examiners. There have been some positive developments around timeliness, but overall, continued delays in investigating cases and a failure to schedule final hearings with sufficient time for them to conclude could cause backlogs and lead to a loss of confidence in the process.