HR professionals in the health service should have a greater role in policing their workforces, according to NHS Employers, the body responsible for negotiating pay and conditions.
The Department of Health (DoH) is reviewing the regulation of non-medical staff. Led by former NHS HR director Andrew Foster, the review proposes that an employer-led system of revalidation should replace the existing set-up where nurses give evidence to the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) that they are fit to practise.
In response to the review, Alastair Henderson, deputy director of NHS Employers, said: “Proper recognition of the crucial role that employers play is long overdue. Employers have a duty to provide a high quality of care to their patients, and they can only fulfil this duty if they are responsible for the competence of their staff.”
Under the plans, employers will use the knowledge and skills framework – introduced as part of the Agenda for Change pay system – to gather evidence on assessing fitness to practise every five years.
But health service unions and the NMC are concerned about using the framework as it only applies to nurses in the NHS and not those in the independent sector.
They argue that the framework was set up to develop practice, not revalidate it.
The review also proposes that employers be responsible for initial investigations into claims of poor performance. However, the unions argue that this could lead to conflicts of interests if organisations investigate their own staff.