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Older nurses leave the NMC register at a faster rate

Greater numbers of older nurses left the register since revalidation, NMC reveals.
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Increased numbers of older nurses left the register since the introduction of revalidation, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revealed.

Fewer nurses over the age of 65 are going through revalidation than typically undertook the previous system of post-registration education and practice (PREP).

The RCN said the trend was part of the downward spiral of nurse numbers. The NMC recently revealed more nurses and midwives are leaving the register than joining it.

Small part of the register

The regulator, in a review of the first year of revalidation published ahead of a council meeting on 5 July, said re-registration rates for older nurses have dropped further since revalidation, but that they make up a relatively small proportion of the whole register.

The report does not

Increased numbers of older nurses left the register since the introduction of revalidation, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revealed.


Increased numbers of older nurses left the profession in the first year of revalidation  Photo: iStock

Fewer nurses over the age of 65 are going through revalidation than typically undertook the previous system of post-registration education and practice (PREP).

The RCN said the trend was part of the downward spiral of nurse numbers. The NMC recently revealed more nurses and midwives are leaving the register than joining it.

Small part of the register

The regulator, in a review of the first year of revalidation published ahead of a council meeting on 5 July, said re-registration rates for older nurses have dropped further since revalidation, but that they make up a relatively small proportion of the whole register.

The report does not reveal the rate of decline in older nurses' registration, but does state the revalidation rate for registrants aged 61 to 70 is 71% while the figure for the register as a whole is 92.4%. 

‘The challenges of retaining an ageing workforce have been recognised by NHS Employers and nursing unions and we want to work with them to make sure revalidation is not an obstacle to older nurses and midwives maintaining their registration,’ the NMC report states.

Nursing shortage

The decline comes as the NHS faces a growing nursing shortage. Research by the RCN showed there were 40,000 unfilled posts – double the number three years ago. And NMC figures published at the end of June revealed more nurses and midwives are leaving the NMC register than are joining it.

There has been a sharp fall in the number of UK-born nurses on the NMC register, while the number of nurses from the European Economic Area leaving the register has more than doubled in four years.

The total number of NMC registrants fell from 692,556 in March 2016 to 690,773 this year.

Keep the system simple

RCN head of nursing Wendy Preston said: ‘Although the numbers affected are low, they show that the revalidation process must be kept simple with clear guidance.

'Many nurses have traditionally continued to practise as a registered nurse after retirement and revalidation is perceived by some as the last straw and signals their time to fully retire.’

Retaining the skills of experienced nurses has been a goal for the NHS through steps such as flexible retirement. With 46% of the NHS workforce aged 45 and older, supporting older members of staff is becoming increasingly important.

Positive feedback

Director of registration and revalidation Emma Broadbent told the NMC council meeting on 5 July: 'Revalidation was a landmark for our organisation and we continue to get positive feedback a year on.

'We will need to run the full three-year cycle before we consider any substantial changes but we are contacting people who let their registration lapse to find out precisely why they did not revalidate.'


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