The Nursing and Midwifery Council is to make changes to the way it carries out checks on registrants to ensure they are complying with revalidation, following recommendations from an independent assessment – though it is still unclear how many applications it is verifying.
The regulator was told in a review, published earlier this month, that it should look into whether its process of verification was successfully identifying potential cases of fraud or other issues with revalidation submissions.
“Perceptions of verification, amongst registrants, highlight a low-level of awareness and understanding of the process”
A research team, from Ipsos MORI, was commissioned by the NMC to carry out an independent evaluation of the first year since revalidation was introduced in April 2016.
No details were provided in their report about what changes the NMC should look into. However, a spokeswoman for the regulator later confirmed to Nursing Times that it had been recommended to make changes to improve its verification system by Ipsos MORI.
“We welcome these recommendations and will be looking to implement them as soon as possible,” she said, but did not explain what those would be.
The NMC has previously only provided limited information about its plans for verification under revalidation.
It said it would select registrants at random, but taking into account those nurses and midwives deemed more at risk of not being able to meet the requirements, such as those who do not have a line manager who is an NMC registrant or those who do not have a regular appraisal.
Under the old system of post-registration education and practice (PREP), the NMC only checked 4% of applications, which has attracted criticism in the past.
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The regulator has yet to reveal how many revalidation applications it is actually checking. However, the research by Ipsos MORI found many nurses and midwives assumed the new approach to checks was more robust.
Following a survey of registrants, the team of researchers found 58% of the sample of 15,439 who revalidated in the past year believed nurses and midwives were now more likely to have their application verified by the NMC than under PREP.
However, around 16% said they did not know if this was the case, “indicating a lack of detailed understanding of the process”, said the report – titled Independent evaluation of revalidation for nurses and midwives.
“When we have a full three years’ worth of data from the first cycle of revalidation… we will release further details of the verification process”
Despite this, there is “strong support” among registrants for the NMC to carry out checks on revalidation submissions, with around 93% of the sample saying it was important.
The same proportion said verification would encourage registrants to maintain evidence that they had met the requirements, while 86% said they believed it would deter registrants from submitting fraudulent information.
“Perceptions of verification, amongst registrants, highlight a low-level of awareness and understanding of the process, but an assumption that this is a more robust and comprehensive process than under PREP,” said the report.
“Maintaining these perceptions will be central to ensuring that verification remains a lever through which to help ensure compliance with the revalidation processes, which it appears to be doing at the moment,” it added.
The NMC spokeswoman said: “When we have a full three years’ worth of data from the first cycle of revalidation and Ipsos MORI have completed their evaluation we will release further details of the verification process, research and monitoring we have undertaken.”
As previously reported by Nursing Times, the independent report also revealed that the introduction of revalidation has led to a “substantial drop off” in the number of people aged 65 or over renewing their nursing registration, as well as a smaller reduction among those in their mid 50s to mid 60s.