Nursing and Midwifery Council members have expressed concern about the impact on the regulator’s finances if the introduction of revalidation results in a significant number of nurses opting to leave the register.
It was revealed last week that the NMC has not budgeted for a drop-off in registrant numbers this year linked to the new system of competency checks that comes into force from 1 April.
Revalidation, which replaces post-registration education and practice (PREP), will require nurses to produce evidence showing their practice is up to date before they can renew their registration every three years.
“We do need to make sure we are managing our finances to accommodate that [risk], which is why a prudent surplus is important”
It has been suggested the requirements – which includes gathering five pieces of practice-related feedback, writing five reflective accounts and completing at least 35 hours of continuing professional development – could be off-putting for some nurses, especially those close to retirement.
At an NMC council meeting to discuss the organisation’s budget and corporate plan for 2016-17, council member Maureen Morgan said there had been reports of potentially 7% of nurses leaving the register.
The NMC’s director of registration Alison Sansome said the regulator did not recognise that figure and was “not predicting anything at that level”.
Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “We always indicated that this would be a risk for those who would find the [revalidation] process difficult to do.
“So we anticipated there would be a number that would not revalidate because it was too difficult,” she told council members.
She later added that she thought it was “extremely unlikely” there would be a “big drop off”, but if the regulator’s monitoring data indicated this were likely to happen, then “we would need to bring that back in terms of what it does to our finances and also what it does to the workforce”.
NMC interim finance director Richard Finlayson confirmed to council members that the forthcoming year’s budget did not account for a reduction in registrant numbers.
When asked by Ms Morgan if a 7% drop off should be regarded as a high number, he agreed it would be “significant” – amounting to around 40,000 registrants.
Ms Sansome said previous policy changes, such as the introduction of indemnity insurance, had not resulted in people leaving the register, despite the risk.
“But there is risk [with revalidation] and we do need to make sure we are managing our finances to accommodate that, which is why a prudent surplus is important,” she said.
The NMC’s projected surplus for 2016-17 is £4.3m, according to council papers. NMC chair Janet Finch claimed a 7% drop-off would leave around £0.5 to £0.75m available as surplus.
The regulator has previously told Nursing Times that a large number of nurses leaving the register when revalidation is introduced should not be automatically viewed as a concern.
The NMC analysed registration trends to provide reassurance about the impact of the new system. The analysis showed more people usually leave in April than most other parts of the year.