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During a visit to one of our clients, a Practice Nurse drew my attention to a plan by the NMC. The plan set out to get all of the nurses in the UK to complete the following:

  • Submit five pieces of practice-related feedback (assuming from patients but given the vagaries of the Data Protection Act, how will they know?)
  • Submit five written reflections on the code of conduct
  • Submit evidence that the nurse has had a discussion with another NMC registrant about these reflections
  • Complete at least 450 hours of practice in the 3 years prior to receiving their registration

This plan has failed to consider any understanding of human beings and how they behave. It’s yet another example of when an organisation is faced with a problem they don’t know how to solve; so they do something else and hope the problem goes away.

Not only is this most likely a typical knee jerk reaction to the various scandals circling round the health service, but it also shows that staff management is so poor, the NHS has asked the patients to step up to the mark and do it for them. Many nurses within the NHS have all the leadership qualities and management skills to do these jobs but unfortunately don’t seek promotions because they don’t want to get embroiled in the politics and blame culture that takes place.

I don’t go for the misty-eyed recollections of how the NHS was in the 1960s when I was a child, because I suspect that it was no better back then. But the demands on the service and the advances in medical science have exposed the flaws in the original model. We need to face the real problem head-on.

If you are concerned that nurses and midwives are not performing well or are so isolated that they develop practices that are unhealthy, that’s a problem for management. Decide what personal qualities and technical skills are needed in a manager of nursing staff and look for those skills. Appoint the right people to do the job and let them get on with it. This is far better than requesting that nurses fill in endless amounts of forms for nobody to check until the next scandal, where it is then discovered that the forms may have been forged. How much sense does it really make to put more work on nurses, who we already have a shortage of?