Revalidation support for agency workers
Revalidation presents particular challenges for agency nurses who work in different settings and may lack support. Enlightened agencies are helping staff to prepare.
Helen Goldsmith (left) advises agency nurses Frank Ndlovu (middle) and Malambo Hambayi on recording CPD
While all nurses will be affected, the process may feel particularly daunting for agency staff, who do not have a main NHS employer.
Nurses who work full-time for an agency are unlikely to have the resources of an organisation behind them, with an appraisal system and a line manager to support them through the process. Nor are they likely to have a human resources department reminding them when their revalidation is due.
Some agency nurses are concerned that it could be easy for them to fall through the gaps. If they miss the deadline, they risk having to re-register, and will not be able to practise until they have been revalidated.
Agency nurses have also expressed concerns about not being able to access training courses, which would count towards the required 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD). Some nearing retirement age have even questioned whether it is worth their while to go through the revalidation process.
A 2013 employment survey carried out by the RCN found that only 31% of bank and agency nurses had a personal training and development plan in place. Of those who did, their line manager was involved in just over one third of cases.
Check when you need to revalidate with the NMC. Missing this date could mean you have to re-register, which could take up to six weeks, and you would not be able to practise in the meantime.
Ask agencies you work for if they are providing any support, or holding training sessions on revalidation.
Start collecting evidence for your portfolio now, such as logging your working hours and collecting certificates when you attend training courses.
Look out for examples at work that could form the basis of a reflective piece, including feedback from patients.
You will need to have a confirmer (not necessarily a registered nurse) and someone to hold your professional development discussion with (they must be on the NMC register). Identify those who can do this and check their willingness to be involved.
Do not leave it to the last minute. Be prepared to submit well before the deadline to allow for any last minute hitches. If you do not re-register in time, you will not be able to practise.
Pay your registration fees on time, including instalments. The NMC is likely to enforce this requirement in future, and failing to make payments could mean you fall off the register and cannot practise.
NHS organisations that use agency staff have also expressed concerns about the effects of revalidation. Agencies will have to offer reassurance to trusts that any nurses they supply have been revalidated.
RCN head of policy Howard Catton says: ‘There is an absolute intention that the new system of revalidation will be for all nurses, regardless of setting.’
But he adds that different settings will take different approaches to supporting nurses through revalidation.
Under revalidation, nurses and midwives must demonstrate to an appropriate person that they have complied with revalidation requirements, including 450 practice hours.
Although the confirmer does not have to be a registered nurse or midwife, the NMC recommends confirmation is provided by a line manager. The level of support for agency nurses can be variable says Mr Catton, but he adds: ‘The confirmer is not applying any fitness to practise requirements. There are lots of people the NMC says can do this.’
The professional development discussion, however, which looks at reflective accounts and practice-related feedback, has to be held with a nurse or midwife who is on the NMC register.
Mr Catton says nurses who work in a team should be able to find someone who can take on this role, or they can look to RCN forums and other special interest groups. The NMC may check that a genuine discussion has taken place, so it is important to document what was discussed, when and with whom.
Some agencies have been proactive in helping their nurses prepare for revalidation. Local Care Force clinical lead nurse Helen Goldsmith says the starting point is knowing when individual nurses will need to go through the process.
‘We have been aware of revalidation for a long time, and I have been preparing our nurses for it,’ she says. ‘I advise nurses to go round with a notebook to note things for reflection and feedback.
‘Some of our nurses who also work in the NHS say they are getting more preparation from us than the NHS, and are asking me to do their revalidation,’ she adds.
It can be more difficult for nurses not attached to a particular trust to access training, but Ms Goldsmith says Local Care Force holds regular training days, which can count towards the required 20 hours of participatory learning, part of the 35 hours of CPD. It is important that nurses keep records of all the CPD they have, she says. ‘After every course, I get them to write reflective pieces before they are out the door.’
Malambo Hambayi, an agency nurse with Local Care Force, says that Ms Goldsmith’s help has been instrumental in helping her to prepare for revalidation in 2017. ‘By then, I will have done all the training, hours and reflection I need. At this point, it is all going well,’ she says.
Another agency that is actively supporting staff through revalidation is Medacs Healthcare. The organisation has teamed up with RCNi to provide its staff with free access to the RCNi portfolio, where nurses can log their CPD evidence, practice hours, reflective accounts and appraisals.
Agency Team 24 says it is also looking at ways to support the revalidation process. ‘A lot of nurses work for us full-time so we have to provide them with the support they need,’ says marketing lead Macey Edwards. ‘There has been huge engagement from our nurses, who are all feeling positive about it’.
The portfolio – which allows you to log your CPD evidence, practice hours, reflective accounts and appraisals – is NMC compliant and portable, so you can take it with you throughout your career.
You can access the RCNi guide to the main revalidation issues at