Increased workload forces healthcare body to expand exclusive list of advisers
The UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC) has reviewed its advisory panel and added Field Fisher Waterhouse, Blake Lapthorn and Hempsons to its exclusive list of legal advisers. The UKCC is a statutory body responsible for ensuring that nurses, midwives and health visitors meet the required standards of patient care. Panel advice covers all aspects of the UKCC's regulatory function, but because the body considers allegations of misconduct and unfitness to practise among its members, investigation, preparation and presentation of professional conduct cases will make up a large proportion of the work. The three firms join Penningtons, TLT, Ward Hadaway, Morgan Cole, Balfour & Manson and Edwards & Co, which are already on the panel. The appointments were done by competitive tender, with the ultimate selection made by a UKCC committee project managed by director of professional conduct Liz McAnulty. The UKCC was generating too much work for the existing panel members to cope with. McAnulty said: "It is part of our drive to get cases through the system more efficiently." The organisation has more than 1,200 complaints a year to assess, a figure that is expected to rise as it is replaced by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which will have access to a wider range of sanctions for misconduct. Panel members are responsible for distinct geographical areas and the three new law firms have been added in three English regions to deal with the increased UKCC caseload. Penningtons and Field Fisher Waterhouse will handle central England, Blake Lapthorn and TLT the South, and Ward Hadaway and the Manchester office of Hempsons will cover the North. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to have just one firm each. It is understood that work will be distributed evenly where there is more than one firm in a region. The panel expansion is a boost for Field Fisher Waterhouse in particular. The UKCC will become one of the Professional Regulatory Group's biggest clients, alongside the General Teaching Council, a client win from last summer. The three-partner team is trying to expand its regulatory practice, whose most important client is still the General Medical Council.