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Nurses could face three yearly checks

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Nurses and midwives across the UK will have to include external feedback in their registration or re-registration applications every three years under proposals put forward by the Nursing and Midwifery council (NMC).

Council members will discuss six possible models during a meeting on 12 Septmber.. The recommended model would require all nurses and midwives to be revalidated every three years at their point of renewal. They will have to gather evidence, to support their application, from patients, colleagues and employers. The current process is known as renewal, where nurses are able to consider themselves fit for practice.

The changes to the revalidation model follow the recommendations made in the Francis Report.

The aim is for the new model of revalidation to be introduced from December 2015.

Jackie Smith, the chief executive of the NMC, said: ‘Ensuring that the skills and conduct of nurses and midwives remain up to date throughout their careers is an important area of regulation. Any effective system of revalidation will increase public confidence that nurses and midwives remain capable of safe and effective practice.

‘The council's decision on which model of revalidation the NMC should adopt is an important one which will focus our work for years to come.'

Tom Sandford, RCN England Director said that the RCN ruling council will be looking at the proposals in detail and will want to consult with members to get their views.

‘The process of revalidation needs to be fully resourced and properly funded so that registrants are supported to fulfill their responsibility to revalidate and there is a minimum undue cost or burden whilst ensuring patient safety at all times,' he added.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said that the RCM was pleased to have been involved in discussions on this issue.

‘There is no doubt that it is essential for public safety that midwives are competent and safe practitioners, and the public should rightly expect health professionals to show they are up to date on their practice.

‘It is worth noting that midwives already have an annual assessment of their competence through statutory supervision by supervisors of midwives. Supervision plays a pivotal role in the governance of midwifery practice by ensuring standards meet those required by the NMC. Women can already take their concerns to supervisors of midwives to discuss any aspects of care they feel has not been addressed through other channels.

The NMC supported the proposals, she said, but stressed that any validation method would need to be proportionate and cost effective. ‘The NHS and NMC will have to invest heavily in managerial skills and protected time for midwives if this new system is to work.

'The RCM wants to see appraisal, which is part of midwives' UK-wide terms and conditions, work, but if this is to be the basis of revalidation it will need to be delivered uniformly across the NHS.

She drew attention to the fact that a significant proportion of midwives do not have appraisals and of those that do many report not finding it useful.

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