UP to 200 unregistered nurses are likely to be working at GP practices across the UK, a new investigation reveals.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is preparing to write to primary care trusts to highlight the importance of ensuring checks are carried out on nurses’ registration, after a woman in Kent was arrested for allegedly passing herself off as a nurse.
The NMC is taking action after a report found most GPs were unaware of their responsibility for checking registration, and an audit of practices across Kent revealed five out of 288 were employing nurses not on the NMC register – potentially invalidating their medical insurance.
GPs in the county were instructed to check nurses’ registration after it was discovered that a healthcare assistant had allegedly fraudulently obtained a qualified nurse’s NMC pin number and worked undetected as a nurse for a number of practices in mid-Kent for years.
If Kent’s rate is representative, there would be around 180 nurses not registered with the NMC across the UK.
Dr John Allingham, a GP in Dover and medical secretary of Kent Local Medical Committee (LMC), said: “The fact this person allegedly worked as a nurse for so long without being one has caused us an enormous amount of work as everyone who had a smear with them or other procedure has had to be contacted and advised to have it redone. I would strongly recommend all GPs check their nurses’ registration annually.”
An NMC spokesperson said GPs found to be employing unregistered nurses could face legal action and increased medical insurance costs: “Employers have a responsibility to ensure staff hold the necessary qualifications and registration. GPs must ensure nurses are registered before they begin work and regularly check their registration status.”
The Kent audit followed the discovery that a healthcare assistant had allegedly been working as a practice nurse.
More than 300 women who had smear tests are being offered retests and more than 1,000 patients who had immunisations are being offered additional treatment.
Kent Police have arrested a 46-year-old woman from mid-Wales on suspicion of fraud.