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Nurse staffing: temporary register extended for two more years

Health and social care secretary Thérèse Coffey has announced that nurses on the register set up to fight COVID-19 may continue to work, due to staffing crisis

Health and social care secretar y Thérèse Coffey has announced that nurses on the register set up to fight COVID-19 may continue to work, due to staffing crisis

The emergency register for nurses is to remain open for a further two years as the government looks to support the NHS through the workforce crisis.

Health and social care secretary Thérèse Coffey has directed the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and all other professional medial bodies to keep their temporary registers open in her first major policy plan for the health service.

Temporary register set up in response to COVID-19

The temporary register was set up in March 2020 as part of the emergency response to COVID-19. It allows those

Health and social care secretary Thérèse Coffey has announced that nurses on the register set up to fight COVID-19 may continue to work, due to staffing crisis

Health and social care secretary Thérèse Coffee has announced that nurses on the register set up to fight COVID-19 may continue to work, due to staffing crisis
Picture: iStock

The emergency register for nurses is to remain open for a further two years as the government looks to support the NHS through the workforce crisis.

Health and social care secretary Thérèse Coffey has directed the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and all other professional medial bodies to keep their temporary registers open in her first major policy plan for the health service.

Temporary register set up in response to COVID-19

The temporary register was set up in March 2020 as part of the emergency response to COVID-19. It allows those who have previously left the profession to rejoin the workforce to help boost staffing during the pandemic.

The regulator was due to wind down the emergency register on 30 September, but it will now remain open for two more years. This means nurses on the temporary register can continue practising in the NHS beyond 30 September.

Those on the temporary register are not subject to the normal NMC fees or revalidation and fitness to practise requirements.

Nurses were told they had six months to join permanent register

In February, the NMC announced that it would stop accepting new applications to the temporary register by 24 March, following the government’s decision to end all coronavirus measures.

Nurses were given six months to rejoin the permanent register to keep practising. Some 19,333 nurses joined the temporary register during it’s first two years, but analysis later showed hundreds had not been contacted to work.

An NMC survey of 3,690 people on the temporary register in August 2021 found 1,068 had never been contacted by employers to take up their offers of help during the pandemic.

The survey also found 430 people had stopped practising, of which half (52%) said they were no longer needed by their employer, or their contract had ended – but one in four (25%) cited stress and burnout, lack of support and poor workplace culture as reasons for quitting.

Who joined the temporary register during COVID-19?

In March 2020, different groups were invited join the temporary register, including international nurses and those who had retired or had left the register. They included:

  • Nurses and midwives who left the permanent register between 1 March 2017 and 29 February 2020
  • Overseas candidates who had completed all parts of their NMC registration process except their OSCE (objective structured clinical examination)
  • Nurses and midwives who left the permanent register between 1 March 2015 and 28 February 2017


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