Nurses face fitness checks shake-up
Nurses and midwives could face new checks involving feedback from patients, users and peers under new proposals.
In a shake-up of the current three-yearly checks, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) wants to see involvement from the third parties before declaring staff fit to work.
Currently nurses and midwives declare themselves fit and the NMC has no power to force a third party to provide information about them.
The recommendation will be debated ahead of a vote at a meeting of the council next Thursday.
The NMC is also putting together a new draft model of its code to make provision for the new style of checks, expected to be published in the spring.
Jackie Smith, chief executive of the NMC, said a series of pilots would be carried out to determine how many nurses should be checked under the new system. With 675,000 nurses and midwives on the register - the largest in the world - it would be impossible to do them all at once.
She told BBC Breakfast: "What nurses and midwives do is they register with us, or re-register with us every three years.
"What we're proposing is that, when they renew their registration with us, they have a form of enhanced appraisal which takes account of the learning that they've done over the year, their development, feedback from patients and users and their colleagues, and that that submission is made to us, and then we carry out checks on those records to make sure that they have done what they've said that they will do."
Ms Smith said the new proposals would give patients more confidence. "They want to know that we're doing regular checks on the people who are caring for them, so it's absolutely right to point that out," she said.
The new system is expected to be launched at the end of 2015. Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "I support the introduction of nurse revalidation, particularly in the wake of the Francis Report, but recognise that any scheme must be tested to make sure it works for nurses and improves safety and quality of care for patients."