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Established in 2002, the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) is a statutory body set up by the Parliament of the United Kingdommarker through the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001. The NMC is the UK regulator for nursing and midwifery professions with a stated aim to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. The NMC maintains a register of all nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses eligible to practise within the UK and by setting and reviewing standards for their education, training, conduct and performance. The NMC also investigates allegations of impaired fitness to practise (ie. where these standards are not met).

There are currently close to 700,000 nurses and midwives on the NMC register, making the NMC the largest healthcare regulator in the UK. In April 2008, the NMC launched its new 'Code' to replace its existing 'Code of Conduct'. The Code details the standards of conduct, performance and ethics required of nurses and midwives. In addition to being a statutory body, the NMC is also a charity registered with the Charity Commission, charity number 1091434 and in Scotland with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, charity number SC038362. All Council members are trustees of the charity.

From UKCC to NMC: 1983-2002

In 1983, the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC) was set up. Its core functions were to maintain a register of UK nurses, midwives and health visitors, provide guidance to registrants, and handle professional misconduct complaints. At the same time, National Boards were created for each of the UK countries. Their main functions were to monitor the quality of nursing and midwifery education courses, and to maintain the training records of students on these courses.

This structure survived with minor modifications up to April 2002, when the UKCC ceased to exist and its functions were taken over by a new Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The English National Board was also abolished and its quality assurance function was taken on board by the NMC. The other National Boards were also abolished, but new bodies were created in each country to take over their functions.


Accusations of bullying and racism

On 11 March 2008 two Members of Parliamentmarker Jim Devine and John Smith made accusations in the House of commonsmarker of bullying and racism within the NMC. These accusations have been firmly denied by the NMC. The government set up an independent inquiry asking the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence and the Charity Commission to investigate.

Panorama controversy

On 16 April 2009, nurse Margaret Haywood was barred from practicing as a Nurse in the UK following a ruling by the NMC Conduct and Competence committee panel. This followed Haywood’s contribution to a BBC Panorama television programme, exposing significant deficiencies in care at the Royal Sussex County Hospitalmarker, an acute teaching hospital in Brightonmarker, Englandmarker. The public and media response was generally antagonistic towards the NMC, the response being described by the Royal College of Nursing as 'unduly harsh'. On 12 October, 2009, the striking off order was dropped, and replaced with a one year caution.

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