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Strength of regulator’s sample checks for nurse revalidation questioned

System not tight enough, claims union, ahead of tomorrow’s decision on proposals

Caroline White

Wednesday, 07 October 2015

The strength of the nursing regulator’s plans for checking the documentation required for nurse revalidation has been questioned ahead of tomorrow’s decision on whether to press ahead with the quality assurance process.

Revalidation for nurses across the UK was proposed in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal, and is designed to boost public confidence in the profession, and ensure that nurses are up to date and remain fit to practise.

Following a series of pilots, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is scheduled to discuss whether to roll out the scheme, from April 2016 this Thursday.

If the scheme is given the go ahead tomorrow, all nurses on the NMC register will have to revalidate every three years and clock up 450 hours of practice every year if they wish to maintain their registration and work in health and social care.

But the union Unite, which represents 25,000 nurses, says that the system for checking a sample of the 680,000 nurses registered with the NMC needs to be tightened in the interests of patient safety.

Because the regulator does not have the resources to check all of the evidence submitted by its registrants, it is proposing to identify a sample that it may check with the ‘confirmer’, who may or may not be the line manager, that the revalidation paperwork is in order.

But Unite wants a firm commitment from the regulator that it will definitely check the evidence submitted from those in the selected sample.

“We appreciate that the NMC does not have the resources to check all the registrants’ evidence, but when it does follow-up on a random sample, we want them to definitely check all the evidence with the confirmer or the professional who carried out the registrant’s reflective discussion,” said Unite lead professional officer, Obi Amadi.

“The reflective discussion is such a key part of the process; to ignore this makes no sense,” she suggested.

“If this does not happen, we risk slipping back to something akin to the previous system of PREP when registrants were able to self-validate by ticking the appropriate boxes to say they were ‘fit to practise’,” she warned.

“If the NMC council decision on Thursday is to go ahead with its introduction, we urge them to make the revalidation process and verification as robust as possible, given the resources available,” she said.

In August, a KPMG report on revalidation, commissioned by the NMC, concluded that awareness of revalidation was generally high across the four UK countries, but highlighted the need to ensure that smaller healthcare organisations and those in the social care sector were equally well informed.

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