The latest annual review from the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has brought yet again the same filings of the NMC in regards to expedition of cases. So much so that they have written to the new health minister to escalate this concern to. The PSA say that the NMC have consistently failed in this aspect for the past 3 years, however it has been reported on for a lot longer than that
In 2016 promises were there in regards to improving the process that led to excessive delays – Nursing standard reported it as being a “convoluted process” and also stating:
“The regulator has been strongly criticised recently for the length of time it takes to complete cases. The longest-running case lasted 6 years and 10 months.”
With the NMC saying improvements has been made to close cases earlier – sound familiar?
“… promises to resolve the ongoing issues causing backlog of cases were reported at Nursing Standard again with use being told: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.’
In October 2016 external consultants were brought in to review what needed to change and the desperate need to improve the long delays for a process that was “costly” and had “long delays” promising that only the most serious cases would go to full hearing. This has been repeated in reports since.
In 2017 reports that the Department of Health backed plans to improve the process and to “overhaul”, stating it would give:
“… the NMC new powers to resolve some cases more quickly, taking only the most serious cases to a full hearing. “
In 2020 the NMC brought in additional resources to assist and clear some of the backlog;
“…To deal with the backlog, the NMC is planning to hire 59 temporary staff at a cost of £1.1 million and outsource 50 cases to external law firms, which will cost £366,000.”
In September 2019 an external review occurred by Veritas to look at the handling of the Morecambe Bay maternity Scandal – were lessons learnt internally by the NMC?
In 2021 again the PSA raising concerns about increasing length of cases finding:
The Professional Standards Authority found:
- The NMC is taking longer to reach case decisions. The median time from referral to a final decision is 90 weeks, up from 80 weeks previously
- The number of cases adjourned for further investigation increased from 23 in the last review to 82
So at least since 2016 the NMC have been failing to improve their process to speed up the time it takes to resolve a case. This is despite bringing in external experts to review processes, changes in legislation that will improve this aspect. Despite the PSA assessing each year to find this and despite external law firms and increased costs to do so.
What will the NMC Council do to resolve this once and for all?
The PSA have escalated to Theresa Coffey in a letter
If something is being done the same again and again and still not working – surely it is time to change the approach?