NMC to postpone fitness to practise cases during COVID-19 pandemic

Regulator will also extend revalidation deadlines by three months and encourage leavers to return to practice

Picture: Barney Newman

The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) fitness to practise hearings will be postponed and revalidation deadlines extended amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to government advice to minimise social contact and non-essential travel, the nursing regulator is also considering a move to virtual hearings.

People affected by these potential changes will be informed directly of the implications for their case.

Investigations will continue in cases relating to immediate risk

Employers will also be asked for information relating to an investigation only when it is essential for immediate risk management.

However, the NMC has announced it will continue to:

  • Log and assess risk for new referrals, as well as new information on existing referrals.
  • Temporarily suspend or restrict a registrant while a case is being investigated.
  • Decide if a registrant can return to practice or not.
  • Deliver High Court or Court of Sessions interim order extension applications.

Revalidation dates will be extended for three months from March

The NMC has also extended the revalidation period for nurses who are currently registered.

From this month, nursing registrants will have an additional three months from their current revalidation date to complete their application.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe

This change will be subject to review, as the NMC is seeking further flexibility from the government as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Situation will be monitored as the pandemic continues

Commenting on the changes, NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said the regulator’s operations will be affected, as colleagues may be ill, have to self-isolate or care for others.

‘It is therefore important that we prioritise the work we do to protect the public and promote public confidence in nursing and midwifery.

‘We also need to recognise the impact of government guidance to minimise the spread of the virus and the incredible pressure people who work with us are under,’ she added.

Ms Sutcliffe said that the situation may change as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

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Recent leavers will be asked to return and ‘help save lives’

Nurses who have left the profession will be called on to return as the fight against coronavirus escalates.

More than 50,000 nurses whose registration lapsed within the past three years will be contacted by the NMC and urged to re-register to tackle the ‘greatest global health threat’, said NHS England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May.

People who are in groups that are vulnerable to infection will not be expected to return.

Recent leavers will be able to opt in to either NHS 111, face-to-face clinical or non-clinical roles across the NHS, based on their skills and how long they have been away from practice.

Ms May said: ‘I am urging all recent former nurses to lend us your expertise and experience during this pandemic, because I have no doubt that you can help to save lives.’

The General Medical Council will also write to 15,500 doctors who have left the register since 2017.


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