The government is to shake up nurses' regulation after an independent review found existing regulatory bodies 'do not do enough to protect the safety of patients'.

The UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting and the four national boards that govern nurse education will be scrapped.

Moving the second reading of the Health Bill in the Lords, junior health minister Baroness Hayman announced that they will be replaced by a single UK-wide body. The bill will repeal existing legislation governing the five bodies to pave the way for the new body to be set up by order.

Further work is to be commissioned on a recommendation in the report by J M Consulting that regulation should be extended to healthcare support workers.

The Royal College of Nursing, which won a judicial review two years ago against the UKCC's decision to restore a convicted rapist to the register, welcomed the news.

The UKCC said: 'We are pleased that many limits in the legislation, which have prevented the UKCC from making the changes it wanted, have been picked up in the review and are the focus of much criticism.'

The Regulation of Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors: report on a review of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1997. From 01937-840250.

The government's response is at http:\\tap.ccta.gov.uk/doh/coin4.nsf

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