NMC consults on removing ‘unnecessary barriers’ for nurses returning to practice

Nursing and midwifery regulator plans more flexible ways to re-join register

The healthcare regulator wants to offer more flexible ways to re-join register

The NMC’s proposals include the possibility of distance learning. Picture: iStock

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is consulting on plans to make it easier for nurses to return to practice after a career break.

The regulator says its proposals aim to ‘increase options [and] remove unnecessary barriers’ for returning nurses, as well as ‘recognise that changes in workforce and working patterns increase demand for more flexible ways to re-join the register’.

Alternative methods of entry

Under the plans, the requirement for a nurse to undergo a ‘return to practice’ programme if they have not completed at least 450 practice hours over three years would no longer be the only option.

Instead, applicants could take the same test of competence given to UK applicants who trained outside non-European Economic Area or European Union countries.

The test, based on the NMC’s standards of proficiency and education, includes a computer-based section and a clinical exam relevant to the field of practice they wish to join.

The consultation is also seeking views on another alternative –self-declaration – which may include accepting a portfolio submission demonstrating a blend of continuing professional development and some supervised practice.

Technological approach

The regulator says it also wants to improve flexibility through innovation and technology, which would include ‘the use of simulation and distance learning, while ensuring appropriate supervision and assessment’.

NMC interim chief executive Sue Killen said: ‘Whether it’s a career break, to have children or to travel abroad, there are many reasons why nurses and midwives choose to take a break from their profession.

‘We recognise that making everyone take a course may not be proportionate, and that’s why we’re exploring alternative ways for people to show they’re safe to practise.’

The consultation runs until 16 November, with the final standards for applicants and educators due to be published in May 2019.

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