A major new system to ensure nurses and midwives demonstrate their practice is up-to-date every three years is introduced from today.
Revalidation, being brought in by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, replaces the old post-registration education and practice (PREP) system.
Nurses and midwives will not be able to renew their registration until they complete the series of checks, which features a number of new requirements.
These include compiling five pieces of practice-related feedback and preparing five written reflective accounts relating to the code of conduct.
Registrants will also have to complete a minimum of 35 hours of continuing professional development in the three years prior to registration renewal, with 20 of these hours being participatory.
A reflective discussion with another registrant must also take place, and all requirements must be signed off – or “confirmed” – preferably by a line manager.
Existing requirements of a minimum of at least 450 hours of practice, a health and character declaration and indemnity insurance must also be evidenced.
“Of the thousands of nurses and midwives who have already gone through the system, many have told us they believe it will deliver real benefits in raising standards”
Around 16,000 nurses and midwives are due to revalidate this month, when the system is introduced from 1 April.
The regulator said in mid-March that over 60% of nurses and midwives due to revalidate in April had already “either started or completed their applications”.
Concerns have been raised by some that the system will be off-putting for some registrants – especially those close to retirement – and will lead to some leaving the register.
The NMC has said it expects “a number” of nurses and midwives on the register to be unable to complete revalidation, but has not budgeted for a reduction in registrants in the first year of its introduction.
It has produced figures showing a larger number of nurses dropping off the register this month should not automatically be attributed to revalidation, because more people normally leave the register at this time of the year anyway.
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NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith described the launch of revalidation today as a “momentous day” and the ”most significant regulatory change in [the NMC’s] history”.
“Of the thousands of nurses and midwives who have already gone through the system, many have told us they believe it will deliver real benefits in raising standards and protecting the public as well as improving their own professional practice,” she said.
Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: “I encourage nurses and midwives to see revalidation as a positive opportunity to consider how they are making continuous improvements in the quality and safety of care, and to support ongoing development.”
“It is important that midwives and nurses engage early with the process and allow themselves the time needed to complete it”
Jean White, chief nursing officer for Wales, described revalidation as an “exciting time” for registrants to reflect on practice and gain opportunities for professional development, while Scotland’s chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen said it was a “positive step” for demonstrating professionalism.
Charlotte McArdle, chief nursing officer for Northern Ireland, said revalidation “marked another step on the journey of graduate professions taking responsibility for the protection of the public and the care that they provide”.
The Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said revalidation was an “important step” towards improving patient care via a clear system.
“Registrants will rightly be nervous because the process is new so employers must help support them”
“It’s important that all staff who complete the process can get the time and supervision needed to make this vision a reality,” she added.
Also welcoming the launch of revalidation today, Royal College of Midwives director for midwifery Louise Silverton said: “The RCM is pleased that after years in development, revalidation is finally here.
“It is important that midwives and nurses engage early with the process and allow themselves the time needed to complete it,” she said. “For midwives, revalidation is an extension of what they currently already do and is an easy and straightforward process.
“That said, feedback from those midwives currently going through the process is that preparation is vital. All midwives should develop the habit of maintaining records of their continuing professional development, received feedback and reflections on an ongoing basis,” she added.
Unison’s head of nursing Gail Adams said it would be working with the NMC to monitor its implementation.
“Registrants will rightly be nervous because the process is new so employers must help support them. We firmly believe this is the way forward though and want to ensure it remains an effective public protection tool,” she said.
Jane Beach, professional officer for regulation at Unite, echoed Ms Adams’ comments:“Today is an important day for the professions and we are sure they will as ever rise to the challenge.
“However, this is just the beginning and we will be continuing to work with the NMC, our members and their employers to monitor progress.”