This week the Nursing and Midwifery Council will make what is arguably the biggest decision affecting the profession in a generation - whether to introduce the new system of competency checks called revalidation.
All the signs are that it will of course, and make no mistake, this will affect every nurse and midwife working in the four countries regulated by the NMC.
It will mean that from April 2016, every registrant will have to provide evidence that they have undertaken the required continuing professional development hours, collected feedback, reflected on their practice, had a professional conversation about their practice with another registrant, and completed 450 practice hours over the three years prior to revalidation.
Many nurses and organisations welcome revalidation because it will enable registrants to prove their professional value just as the medics already do. However, there are some concerns about who will get left behind by the process.
In community settings and the residential care sector, experts predict many registrants won’t be aware of the implications of the revalidation process on their ability to practise, despite the NMC’s awareness campaigns. Put bluntly, if they fail to complete all the required activities by the end of a three-year registration period, they will be committing a crime if they continue to practise before completing the activities and getting back on the register.
This could have the most devastating effect on patients and residents. A registered nurse suspended from the register may be the only one they have access to.
And these services can ill afford to lose registered nurses who find themselves unable to work because they have not met their revalidation requirements. The current workforce crisis will only deepen.
If revalidation gets the predicted green light at the NMC’s council meeting on 8 October it is essential that nurses, midwives and employing organisations are ready. And, while registrants are responsible for ensuring they meet their revalidation requirements, employers need to be able to facilitate the process - particularly if they want to retain their nurses.
If you haven’t already started thinking about revalidation, the time is now. April will be too late.
Jenni Middleton, editor
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