Victory for John’s campaign: Government to fast-track changes to nursing and midwife regulation

The Government is to abandon plans for a years-long delay in urgently needed changes in regulation of nurses and midwives. Instead, the changes will be introduced as soon as possible via regulations through Parliament.

The news is contained in a letter sent by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Deane. Mr Healey has been campaigning in Parliament for these changes for a year, since being alerted to the need for change by a constituency case involving a local family and the care received by their young son, Vinny Duggan.

This threw up the ridiculous anomaly that, unlike other professional regulatory bodies, the Nursing and Midwifery Council does not have the legal powers it needs to review or revise its own decisions.

A similar power is available to the General Medical Council for doctors, the General Optical Council and the General Pharmaceutical Council. The delay in introducing such a power for the NMC leaves nurses and midwives without a level playing field regarding their own professional body, unable to clear their name in cases where they have been subject to allegations, and patients without common protection across the medical professions.

John Healey MP raised this matter with Health Ministers on the floor of the House of Commons in December 2012 and with the Prime Minister directly during his statement on the Francis Report in February 2013. The Prime Minister said that the Law Commission would look at and advise on how to deal with the current situation with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. This could have led to years of delay before a solution was put in place.

Commenting on the Government’s change of heart, John Healey MP said today:

“I am delighted that the Government has now accepted the argument that years of delay will fail patients, their families and nursing staff. Public confidence in the NHS depends on complaints being swiftly and fully investigated. I now look forward to these legal changes being made in Parliament as soon as possible. Patients and staff deserve nothing less.”

Vinny’s mother, Andrea Duggan said:

“John’s refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer has forced the government to agree now that this loophole does need to be closed sooner rather than later but we will be watching to make sure it’s sooner! I am very proud that we have made such headway. It’s fantastic, and also be very satisfying to know that all the families who do not yet know they will have to complain will not suffer the frustrating process we’ve had to endure once this legal change is made”.