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Exclusive: Government U-turn on delayed nurse revalidation roll-out


The Department of Health has rowed back from plans to delay nurse revalidation in England, in light of the negative response from the profession’s leaders, Nursing Times can reveal.

Earlier this week, Nursing Times learnt that the DH wanted to delay the full introduction of the process for two years, in order to protect trusts that are struggling financially.

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It was planning to introduce a “voluntary” system for employers to provide support to registrants – effectively creating a two-tier system and potentially stalling its full introduction. An announcement detailing the plans was due in a letter to be sent on 31 October.

The move would have been in contrast to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who have confirmed they are largely ready to implement revalidation as planned. 

However, revelations about the DH plans in Nursing Times were met with dismay by both senior nurses and union leaders.

As a result, Nursing Times understands that the DH has now changed its position and is drafting a new letter, which will be sent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council – possibly as soon as later today.

It will say that England is ready to introduce revalidation and that trusts will be required to support registrants through the process except in very rare circumstances agreed by regulators, for example, where the whole board or chief executive has resigned.

The new letter will not talk about finances and will say revalidation benefits patients and will claim the DH position has always been that it supports the new system of competency checks.

“We are working with the NMC to make sure revalidation is introduced in the right way so it is manageable for trusts and does not divert nurse and midwives from patient care”

DH spokeswoman

UK-wide revalidation for nurse and midwives was one of the recommendations made by the Francis review into failings at the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and was subsequently accepted by ministers in their response. A similar system is already in place for doctors.

Under the NMC’s plans, nurses and midwives will need to complete revalidation every three years in order for them to remain on the register and, therefore, be able to practise.

The new checks process, designed as a replacement for the post-registration education and practice (PREP) system, was piloted by more than 2,000 nurses working at 19 different sites across the UK during the summer.

To revalidate successfully, the NMC’s approved guidance states that registrants will have to complete at least 450 hours of practice, compile five pieces of practice-related feedback and prepare five written reflective accounts relating to the code of conduct.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

NMC offices in Portland Place

A reflective discussion with another registrant is also required, as is a health and character declaration and evidence of indemnity insurance.

In addition, registrants must have all of the revalidation requirements “confirmed” and signed off by a third party, who is preferably their line manager but does not have to be an NMC registrant.

Registrants will 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.

This represents a change from the original proposal of 40 hours of CPD, following feedback from organisations which tested the system and said there was no evidence of the benefits from this increase.

At its last council meeting on 8 October, the NMC said it was “confident” that, based on the results from the pilots, the introduction of revalidation was “achievable, effective and realistic”.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “As set out in our response to the public inquiry into Mid Staffs, we fully support the principles of revalidation.

“We are working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to make sure it is introduced in the right way so that it is manageable for trusts and does not divert nurse and midwives from patient care,” she added.


Readers' comments (23)

  • pity the government doesn't have the same reactions when faced with 'negative response' regarding salary increases, or nurses comments about any other changes that would improve the professions standing. of course this a backing down that clearly costs nothing!

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  • The Nhs will lose a lot of nurses over this. Watch the staffing crisis get worse.

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  • Absolutely it shows how disconnected the powers that be are. What are they afraid of? Is it the fear of losing control of the nursing masses? Yes lets see if there is a connection between nurses leaving. So are the nursing times going to write the dissenters view? Will the nursing times approach the dissenters to know what the view is? I fear this is creating a greater disconnect - sad times.

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  • I can't be the only one who feels that this is just another hoop to jump through and will achieve very little. I think it's high time we question the NMC's Fitness to Practice.

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  • You couldn't make this stuff up, could you?

    So it's clear that the government/DH/regulators are only prepared to "reconsider" any of their daft moves when the NHS' so-called "leaders" object. The nurses' voices are not heard. Oh, wait... that's what unions are for, right?

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  • The only nursing leaders are the ones on the frontline, what other leaders are there? When will the unions see the light also? I only see management speak, okay so this is a view only but I've heard - fellowship= blame. Lean=mean. Leadership = who gets to be heard above frontline. Lia = Liars white elephant. Narrative = embellised chocalate wheels. DoH = doh

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  • I was hoping that I would have another couple of years nursing but sadly no.

    I refuse to spend my precious off duty time doing pointless paperwork that proves nothing except that I can put pen to paper or word processor but not that I am a safe practitioner.

    Farewell to nursing next August, I'm off!

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  • I'm looking to leave care too. Love what I do but I refuse to be a buffer zone for those considered to be above me potentially protecting their pensions. I believe this is the end to democratic nursing care and definitely don't want to stick around where patients could be used by those above to get rid of nurses who might not go along with their agenda. The death Nell has finally struck and nobody has listened. revalidation is no good if there's no one left to revalidate. When will they listen, the old guard, management approach and their sycophants must be pushed out before anything truly changes. We need Avatarian (avatar) leaders at the front (not patrons) to replace revalidation. who can measure experiential skill in action of others to determine valuebased ability. I never complain without an idea, ive given you an idea guys at the top now listen and just do it.

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  • I'm yet another nurse who can't wait to leave the profession. My training and experience throughout my years of nursing are obviously no longer good enough, and so now I am expected to spend my days off proving it too. Nurses have lives outside of the job and I'm not prepared to sacrifice my personal time for a profession that is now making me miserable, I hope revalidation proves (as expected by all the nurses I work with) to be a massive waste of time, money and effort. I will never let my children enter this profession, very sad.

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  • Hopefully, I will have paid off enough of my mortgage in three years time to let my nursing registration lapse, just in time for when my revalidation is due. As a nurse with 16 years experience, I can honestly say that revalidation will do nothing to improve patient care and encourage experienced nurses like myself to leave the profession. The only people to benefit will be the pen-pushers wasting scarce NHS money marking reflective essays and such like.

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