HEI Upload at the Nursing & Midwifery Council

Background

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the regulator for nurses and midwives in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  The NMC has a statutory obligation to provide a register of nurses and midwives allowed to practise in the UK and are also responsible for setting standards of education, training and conduct.


Challenge

Each year approximately 37,500 nursing or midwifery qualifications studied at 77 higher education institutes across the UK need to be added to individual’s records on the nursing register.  Each of the education providers would supply the qualification data in a fixed-width delimited text file, which the NMC would then process using a batch application.  These text files were cumbersome, sometimes created manually and would often contain errors.  This meant that NMC staff or the educational institutes would often have to manually fix files and in some cases recreate them entirely.  This could require several attempts per file, with each attempt taking at least 15 minutes to upload to the register in addition to the staff time spent correcting errors.

The NMC asked Fortesium to improve the process of adding qualifications to the register, seeking to improve data security, reduce the communications burden between the NMC and educational institutes and reduce staff time spent fixing the files.  As many of the educational institutes already had systems in place to automatically create the fixed-width files, the new process had to retain support for this file format – whilst shifting the burden of ensuring the files were valid from the NMC onto the educational institutes that created them


Solution

Rather than processing the files with a batch application, Fortesium designed and built a solution that would allow the educational institutes to upload the qualifications data to a secure website and see the results of processing the files in real-time.  Fortesium also added support for submitting the data in an XML format for the benefit of institutes that wished to move away from the fixed-width file format.  The new system utilises several client-side and server-side validation rules along with an easy to use web interface which allows the alteration of individual records that have validation errors.  The NMC’s nursing register comprises an SQL database, a legacy thick-client application and a collection of batch scripts.  Fortesium integrated their new website with the NMC’s legacy application, ensuring that any existing error messages returned from the application are promptly returned to the end user for further investigation and action.  NServiceBus running over MSMQ performs the messaging between the legacy application and the website, which ensures that the new website can continue to receive data from educational institutes without any loss of the uploaded information – even when the legacy system is not available.


Outcome

Fortesium’s solution went live in summer 2015 and ran in parallel with the existing system whilst the educational institutes gradually moved over to the new website.  Since then the website has been well-received and has successfully processed 1000’s of new qualification details from 67 higher education institutes.  As a result the amount of staff time spent uploading registrant’s new qualifications to the register has reduced dramatically.