Nurses say the move is still likely to be years away rather than months, despite NMC backing. The regulator asked for permission to set up an advanced register three years ago, in 2005.
The DoH's head of regulation Gavin Larner told the RCN Congress this month that it was poised to ‘move quickly' on setting up the advanced register.
But a meeting this month of a working group that will decide which parts of the healthcare workforce should be regulated was told little progress had been made.
RCN Nurse Practitioners Forum chair Jenny Aston said: ‘They are still discussing how you assess who needs to be statutorily regulated,' she said.
The working group is trying to devise a standardised tool that it can apply to any set of health workers, she said. But Ms Aston added: ‘I think the earliest this tool will be ready is December 2008.'
Potential risk attached to healthcare workers' roles will be a ‘hugely important factor' in deciding whether they need regulation, Ms Aston added.
‘We are a high-risk group and I don't see why there should be any argument about whether we should be regulated as an advanced level of practice. But they want a one-size-fits-all tool so they don't have to legislate several times.'
Asked how far off a register of advanced nurses was, an NMC spokesman said last week: ‘How long is a piece of string?'
A DoH spokeswoman said: ‘After the delays to progress on this issue while the wider White Paper agenda was being agreed, the DoH will be discussing how we can make more rapid progress with the NMC, other regulators and the affected professional groups.'
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