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27.09.15

NMC set for important decision on revalidation

Jackie-SmithJackie Smith, chief executive and registrar at the Nursing & Midwifery Council, explains how healthcare employers and managers can start planning ahead for revalidation. 

At the start of October, the NMC is due to decide about moving ahead with one of the most important regulatory improvements to nursing and midwifery in recent times. 

Revalidation represents a significant step forward in supporting nurses and midwives to reflect on their professional Code and their practice, record their own learning and development and engage with their colleagues on what good care looks like. 

If the NMC Council approves moving forward with revalidation, nurses and midwives in the UK will begin to go through the process from April next year. By 2019, all of the 684,000 nurses and midwives on the NMC’s register will have gone through the new process for the first time. 

All the evidence suggests that revalidation is both achievable and beneficial. The NMC piloted the process across 19 sites covering a range of different sectors and work environments. Over the course of three months, more than 2,000 people went through the pilots and tested the revalidation model. 

One of those pilot organisations was Public Health England. When I spoke to Helen Kirk, their head of occupational health transition and revalidation lead, she described revalidation as “an extremely useful process – it provides a challenge, an opportunity to think, and to critique practice and performance. This is a chance to identify good practice and really embrace our professional Code”. [Editor’s note: Helen Kirk detailed her experiences of the revalidation pilot for NHE’s March/April 2015 special focus on the subject.

Importantly, the pilots told us that not only did nurses and midwives find the experience positive, but employers thought that it was manageable and didn’t place an unnecessary burden on their shoulders. 

Where the pilots did highlight challenges, we have amended our guidance to clarify the requirements and provide more information in some practical areas, such as what it means to have a reflective discussion, or how to decide who should act as a confirmer for the nurse or midwife’s evidence. We are acutely aware that knowledge of revalidation is less consistent outside of the NHS and so we will provide additional information for those in independent and voluntary settings, particularly in rural areas, to help them through the process. 

Many senior healthcare leaders have already asked me: “What can I do to prepare?” I’m pleased to say that there are various steps that can be taken at this stage. Employers and managers can start thinking about how to facilitate the conversations between nurses and midwives and their confirmers; the people who decide whether requirements for revalidation have been met. Those who directly line-manage nurses and midwives should be aware that they might be asked to act as a confirmer, and we have published a document with information for confirmers to support them through this process which you can find on our website. 

Of course, revalidation will ultimately be the responsibility of individual nurses and midwives, and the NMC is committed to delivering useful step-by-step tools to ensure that everyone is clear about what’s being asked of them. The process of applying for revalidation will be online, and so each nurse and midwife will need to set up an account with NMC Online. 

As you might expect, we have published provisional revalidation guidance on our website for nurses, midwives and employers, so everyone can familiarise themselves with the requirements. This guidance will then be updated following the Council meeting in October. 

Revalidation is an exciting milestone and one that everybody working in healthcare should welcome with open arms. We recognise however that any change to regulation has the potential to impact on employers and managers. 

The NMC is committed to making the introduction of revalidation as easy as possible, knowing the pressure that many healthcare leaders are already under. My advice would be to read the provisional guidance, begin to have the conversations with nurses and midwives and start thinking about how your organisation can support staff to revalidate from next year. 

Together, I am certain that we can help every nurse and midwife approach revalidation with confidence, in the interests of patient safety.

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