A large number of nurses leaving the register when revalidation is introduced in April should not be automatically viewed as a concern, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The regulator has analysed registration trends in order to try and reassure the profession about the impact of the new system of checks that will require nurses and midwives to renew their registration every three years.
“The first thing people will want to know is how many people have left the register”
Around 16,000 nurses and midwives – about 2.5% of the register – are due to revalidate in April. Concerns have been raised that having to complete the new process could dissuade some nurses from remaining on the register, indicated by a sharp fall in registrants when it is introduced.
But the NMC’s analysis, shared with Nursing Times, shows more people usually leave in April than most other parts of the year. A report due to be shown to the UK’s chief nursing officers, NHS England and other national bodies this week suggests the number of nurses and midwives who deregister every year is not spread evenly across 12 months.
April sees a “significantly higher” proportion – 11% – of all annual leavers departing at this time, compared to other months such as June and July (6%), said the report. It said this was because, for older nurses, it was one of only two times in the year when they could first join the register, and many of those are now at retirement age.
The report estimates that, based on data from the past five years and without taking into account any effect of revalidation, between 2,900 and 3,200 nurses and midwives will leave the register in April 2016. Of these, around 62% are expected to be aged over 54.
“This is about the NMC being on the front foot and putting out there what is naturally a trend”
The NMC has predicted between 26,700 and 29,300 nurses and midwives will leave the register from April 2016 to March 2017 in total. It noted that in recent years, despite an average 3.5% annual increase in the number of people leaving, the register has grown by around 28,000 people in the past six years.
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “There is no doubt that when revalidation goes live in April, the first thing people will want to know is how many people have left the register. This [report] is about the NMC being on the front foot and putting out there what is naturally a trend and has been over the past few years in terms of leaving the register.
She told Nursing Times the report would be shared with CNOs and others to stop any “alarmist” reaction to high numbers leaving the register, which in fact could be attributed to a historical trend.
“We are trying to say to them that over the past few years there have been peaks throughout the calendar year where nurses and midwives have left the register,” said Ms Smith. “One of those peaks is in April, which happens to be the start of revalidation, so please don’t be concerned.”