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Plans for new system of nurse competency checks approved by regulator


The Nursing and Midwifery Council has today approved plans for the introduction of a major new system of competency checks for registered nurses and midwives, with the regulator’s chief executive describing it as a “historic” moment.

The new checks system, called revalidation, will need to be completed every three years by nurses and midwives in order for them to remain on the NMC register and, therefore, able to practise.

Nursing and midwifery unions and organisations representing employers have largely welcomed the launch, although stressed the importance of an ongoing evaluation of the system to see if it can be improved in the future.

They noted the 16,000 nurses and midwives due to renew their registration in April would only have six months to ensure they have met all requirements and urged them and employers to begin preparation immediately.

NMC council members unanimously agreed to introduce revalidation next spring. They also approved standards for the new system.

“We believe that revalidation will give the public confidence that the people who care for them are continuously striving to improve their practice”

Jackie Smith

It will replace the current system of post-registration education and practice (PREP) in April 2016, after NMC council members signed off guidance today at their latest meeting in London.

The guidance for revalidation 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.

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.

The new system has been piloted by more than 2,000 nurses working at a range of different sites prior to its roll-out nationally. It was tested in 19 sites across the UK this summer.

The NMC said it was “confident” that, based on the results from the pilots, the introduction of revalidation was “achievable, effective and realistic”.

The NMC council today also approved changes to standards for readmission to the register.

This included closing a loophole which could have enabled nurses to avoid revalidation by allowing their registration to lapse and then reapplying to the register within the next six months. Those attempting this will now be required to complete revalidation.

Meanwhile, midwives who have dual registration and work only as a school nurse or health visitor will now not be required to submit an annual intention to practise midwifery form to their supervisor.

They will remain on the NMC register, but their entry will say they are not entitled to practise as a midwife –unless they then complete a return to midwifery practice programme.

Nearly 16,000 nurses and midwives will be the first to revalidate in April 2016. All 685,000 nurses and midwives on the NMC’s register will go through the new process as their registration becomes due for renewal over the course of the next three years.

At the regulator’s meeting today, before approving the system some council members raised concerns about the “one size fits all model”, as well as potential difficulties for registrants in smaller organisation in completing the 20 hours of participatory CPD.

NMC  corporate legislation adviser Clare Padley said the regulator would be evaluating the revalidation model “from the outset” and that it would also carry out a formal review.

Meanwhile, NMC director of continued practice Katerina Kolyva said that while participatory CPD would be more difficult for some registrants, it was an important new element of revalidation designed to “challenge professional isolation”.

NMC council member Quinton Quayle predicted there would be some “minor glitches” with the system and NMC chair Janet Finch said the regulator’s evaluation of the pilots found many organisations were still yet to implement their plans meaning they would have “quite a lot of work” to do ahead of April.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith later told Nursing Times the regulator noted there had been “a lot of anxiety” around the burden of revalidation on employers and individuals.

But she said the NMC’s guidance approved today made it clear that organisations and registrants did not need to go to great lengths to be able to support or complete revalidation.

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

However, she reiterated the regulator would monitor revalidation, including the “crucial” element of CPD.

She said today’s decision to introduce revalidation from April was an “absolutely tremendous, historic moment”.

“It reflects where the NMC is and the progress that we’ve made. Many thought the NMC couldn’t do this and we’ve demonstrated we can,” she said.

“It’s also important to say just how significant this is for the profession and the public. It simply can’t be right that you sit on a register for years and there is no way that anyone ask questions about how you are living the standards set out in the code,” she added.

“Importantly for the profession, [there is] huge support for this and that’s great because it has enabled us to deliver something they value.

“They [the profession] absolutely want to demonstrate what the vast majority of them do which is practise to a very high standard,” said Ms Smith.



Readers' comments (23)

  • Insanity personified.... who has the time for this rubbish? Just goes to show the Pie in the Sky lives the NMC live.

    And will it be like PREP where no one ever checked that any of it was kept up to date, to the letter of the law?

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  • It's still just a paperwork exercise,does not prove you are kind compassionate and competant at all which is what nurses should be .I would rather put my time and energy into these things than revalidation ,come and see me at work with my patients to see how I do but dont expect me to jump through hoops to collect 'evidence'. I guess I'll have to step down to be allowed time to care

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  • Does it bother anyone else that out of the three NMC bods quoted in this story none of them are registered nurses. Clare Padley is a barrister, Jackie Smith has a background in law and Quinton Quayle is a retired diplomat.

    I thought the idea of a profession was that it regulates itself? How are we regulating ourselves when we're being dictated to by people who aren't even nurses?

    I'll do my revalidation work, personally 35 hours/40 hours, it's only around an hour a month. If people were able to do it for PREP they should be able to do it for this, but I'm bothered that we're being dictated to by people who are not our peers and we pay them to do this.

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  • Apologies, Janet Finch is a nursing academic I believe. So one out of four of these people has a nursing background.

    Is this similar in the GMC or GDC? (This is a genuine question)

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  • The regulations for medical revalidation differ a great deal. Doctors have to revalidate every 5 years, they have collect 50 cpd per year, they have to show 360 feedback colleague and patient, and they also have to do reflection, they have to participate in annual appraisal over the 5 year period and once their evidence is gather a Responsible Officer within the organisation reviews the evidence and if it is in place and sufficient the RO will make a recommendation to the GMC and the GMC will decided if the dr is revalidated for the following 5 years. Dr revalidation is far more robust

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  • Anon @8:51pm, I meant is their regulating council made up of people who have nothing to do with the profession. I had a quick look at the GMC, there was probably about a 50:50 mix of registrants and lay members, but they are a lot clearer about it on their website than the NMC are.

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  • More good nurses with lots experience retiring or looking for a position with less stress "heading for the hills" and we as nurses indirectly are paying for this which seems to adds insult to injury when will common sense prevail the nursing profession is in crisis and no one seems to acknowledge this.

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  • Anonymous at 8.24 and 8.28
    Well said ... Who are these people but more importantly when are we going to stand up to this nonsense? The people that we pay to sit on commitees at the NMC should be also working in clinical areas on at least a part time basis before they make comments about what we should do. They have no credibility in my view whatsoever. In my experience a "nurse academic" is a LONG way from active, physical hands on care on a regular basis. They might show a face on a ward once in a while but most have opted for a more office based approach to nursing care.

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  • The NMC have actually been quite clever here - some may sly - in that the PREP checks that they never did are now re-badged as revalidation and now have to be done by the employer. An absolute masterstroke in one sense, but this does close down the argument that they need to raise the registration fee to pay for it.

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  • Phew! No more fees for me,I'm OUT! I may go as a carer somewhere as nursing is all I know(sad but true!) and the NMC can just **** ***! I feel liberated and to hell with the salary,I don't want it! I wish you all the best with this I really do but I'm so glad not to be a part of it!

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