The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has held the first meeting of its steering group looking at the future shape of Part 3 of the register, the current home in terms of registration for many occupational health nurses.
The meeting saw occupational health represented by the Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing (FOHN) and the National School of Occupational Health (NSOH), but encompassed nurses from across the spectrum, including midwives, school and community nurses and representatives from the four countries of the UK.
The NMC has since 2016 been reviewing both pre-registration and post-registration nursing education and standards. Within OH, there have long been concerns as to whether NMC-validated Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (SCPHN) occupational health courses remain fit for purpose and whether the NMC even fully understands the nature and complexities of OH practice.
But the meeting in November put that latter concern at least to rest, emphasised Fiona King, FOHN deputy chief operating officer.
“It was very positive. We can be quite negative within OH sometimes about the NMC. But, actually, I felt they were very much listening. Occupational health got equal airtime to everyone else and there was an understanding that there were differences, and the unique positioning that occupational health has. It was very much, ‘how do we make this work going forward?’,” she told Occupational Health & Wellbeing.
“The third part of the register is out of date now, the NMC knows that. But, equally, they were very clear that, for now, things will stay as they are; they don’t want to cause concern for nurses who might be thinking about whether to do the third part or not,” King added.
“It was a good, open conversation – very collaborative and quite involved – about what we need to be doing and what are the options. And it was great that OH nursing was around the table,” agreed Mandy Murphy, deputy head of the NSOH.
The next meeting of the steering group will be in January and to feed into the process, FOHN and SOM (the Society of Occupational Medicine) have combined to run a survey to find out views of OH nurses about SCPHN and the future of Part 3, as the NMC has said it is keen to hear the opinions of the various nursing specialties.
It can be found here is due to close for responses at the end of December.
The review process is expected to run for a further 18 months at least and the steering group is being chaired by former deputy chief nursing officer for England Dr David Foster.