Members of the UK nursing regulator’s council have highlighted a number of risks that could arise from revalidation and have called for an assessment of their potential impact.
At a Nursing and Midwifery Council meeting yesterday, it was noted that the new system of checks could lead some registrants to decide not to continue their registration, resulting in a loss of fees for the regulator.
“A 6% failure rate multiplied across the register would be 40,000 people not able to revalidate which is a fairly awful thought”
Examples cited included registrants in non-clinical roles, those close to retiring, or UK nurses working overseas who may decide not to revalidate if they believe it is too difficult for them to go through the process.
The knock-on effect of this would be a reduction in income for the NMC, which would need to be planned for, noted an observer – Donna O’Boyle, professional regulatory adviser at the Scottish Government – who was attending the meeting.
Another issue identified was the additional strain on the regulator’s resources in providing help to registrants as they revalidate for the first time.
One council member noted that during the revalidation pilot, around 400 phonecalls were made to the NMC from the 800 nurses and midwives trialling the system at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
“We need to make sure we keep nurses and midwives on the register”
Louise Scull, who raised the issue, said that if a similar proportion of registrants required help as the new system is rolled out across the 680,000 people currently on the NMC register, this could lead to around 300,000 phonecalls being made to the regulator.
Ms Scull also pointed out that while the pilots saw 94% of participants successfully complete revalidation, if this were applied to the entire register this would mean tens of thousands dropping off.
“We talk in the pilot about 94% success rate, which sounds great. But a 6% failure rate multiplied across the register would be 40,000 people not able to revalidate which is a fairly awful thought,” she said.
An assessment of the risks of revalidation and what plans are in place to deal with them would be required before a final council decision is taken on whether to go ahead with the proposed launch date, said Ms Scull.
NMC chief executive Jackie Smith told the council that a full risk assessment would take place ahead of October, when members will make the final decision on whether to introduce the new system from April 2016.
“The evaluation of the pilots [for nurse revalidation] tells us this is something registrants can do”
“We need to make sure we keep nurses and midwives on the register,” she said, adding: “This is not about rooting out people, it’s about keeping people on the register positively demonstrating that they meet the standards and are being professional.”
Ms Smith also said that practical examples and case studies from the pilots would be distributed to assure registrants in all circumstances that it is possible for them to revalidate.
She added that the NMC had reviewed the financial impact on the regulator if some nurses and midwives were to drop off the register.
However, she later told Nursing Times she was unable to say how much income loss the NMC had forecast for.
Ms Smith pointed out that before the General Medical Council introduced its own system of revalidation for doctors in 2012 it expected some to leave the register, but that in reality this “never materialised”.
“The evaluation of the pilots [for nurse revalidation] tells us this is something registrants can do,” she said.