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Nursing and Midwifery Council

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will bring forward proposals to improve the regulation of the activities of the Nursing and Midwifery Council; and if he will make a statement. (191966)

In February 2007 Government published the White Paper “Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century”, which sets out a series of proposals to modernise the system of professional regulation. These proposals include a number of reforms to the governance of the regulatory bodies, such as the introduction of fully appointed, smaller, more board-like councils, where professional members no longer form a majority.

The Health and Social Care Bill will introduce provision to require the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) in its annual report to state how far, in exercising statutory functions, it and each health professions regulatory body has, in the council’s opinion, promoted the health, safety and well-being of patients and other members of the public. It also clarifies that the CHRE is not prevented from investigating particular cases for the purpose of making general reports on the performance of health care regulatory bodies of its functions or making general recommendations to those bodies affecting future cases.

All regulators are currently required to produce annual reports which they send to the Privy Council, which then lays the reports before each House of Parliament. We have introduced further provision on the content of these reports, which includes a description of the arrangements that the council has put in place to ensure that it adheres to good practice in relation to equality and diversity. It will be a requirement that the regulator lay a copy of its annual report and strategic plan before the United Kingdom Parliament, and where appropriate the Scottish Parliament.