Media reports today indicate that the system of checks related to nurses and midwives is about to be significantly changed.
The new plans have been instigated in the context of the so-called mid-Staffordshire scandal.
An estimated 400-1,200 patients died as a result of poor care over the 50 months between January 2005 and March 2009 at Stafford hospital.
As a result of the fallout from this case, nurses and midwives will now undergo checks every three years.
NHS watchdogs indicated that the reforms, which will be officially announced on Thursday 8th October, will constitute the biggest change in the history of the regulation of nurses.
The new regulations were considered essential in order to ensure that poor standards were not replicated on a wider scale in the NHS.
As a result of the new system of checks, nurses will be required to provide evidence demonstrating that they are both skilled and compassionate.
This can include feedback from patients, managers and fellow members of staff.
The new regulations are a first for the nursing profession, as it had previously been standard practice for workers in this sector to declare themselves fit for work without third-party evidence as support.
But recommendations from the public enquiry into the Staffordshire scandal have led to this new system of checks and balances.
The new system will be implemented by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and will further require nurses to prove to regulators is that their professional skills are adequate, and that regular training has been undertaken in order to ensure complicity with contemporary practices.
Nearly 700,000 registered nurses and midwives in the UK will be subjected to the checks.
It has been pointed out with regard to the decision that it would generally not be expected for an individual to be present on a professional register for several decades without significant checks on their ability to conduct their duties.
Yet this was precisely the situation for nurses ahead of this new regulation and legislative measure.
In particular, nurses will be tested against the code of conduct of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
And the hierarchy of the council has already placed a particular emphasis on the importance of patient feedback.
It is clear that this measure is intended to restore public confidence in the health service, and also to ensure that nurses and midwives engage more readily with the general public.
Sir Robert Francis QC called for the system of “revalidation” two and a half years ago, in his public inquiry into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation trust.
And it seems that the radical overhaul recommended by Francis is now ready to be implemented.