Nearly half (44%) of nurses and midwives find it difficult to find time to undertake the continued professional development (CPD) required by revalidation, according to an independent evaluation published today by social research institute Ipsos MORI.
Registrants working in community settings (45%), public health organisations (46%) and secondary care (47%) were particularly likely to struggle to fit the CPD required into their schedules, found the report, which looked at revalidation of nurses and midwives by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Some nurses and midwives reported completing at least some of the revalidation requirements – including 35 hours of CPD and gathering five pieces of practice-related feedback – in their own time with a few examples incurring a financial cost to do so such as by taking a day of annual leave.
Other concerns raised by the report included some nurses and midwives ‘passively’ collecting the feedback required for revalidation, such as by submitting thank-you cards from patients. As a result, many registrants received no more feedback than they had done prior to revalidation.
Meanwhile, registrants in more isolated roles – such as in GP practices, where they may be the only registrant employed – were more likely to struggle to collect enough practice-related feedback, which can come from a variety of sources such as patients or colleagues.
Though 60% of nurses and midwives reported practising more safely and effectively in the year they revalidated, this dropped to 56% one year after and 53% two years after. As a result, the report suggested that the NMC should work out how to sustain this positive effect over time.
Further suggestions included reducing the amount of feedback required for revalidation but introducing a way for registrants to describe how they used feedback constructively in order to make the process more ‘meaningful’.
The NMC should also look at the relationship between how CPD is carried out, advised the report, which stressed the need to improve the overall quality of revalidation without adding new requirements or increasing the number of hours asked of registrants.
Revalidation dubbed a ‘success’
The evaluation concluded that the first three years of revalidation were a success with the ‘no substantial issues’.
Since the introduction of revalidation in 2016, the initial anxiety among nurses and midwives about its complexity were found to have largely abated as more registrants went through the process.
In its annual revalidation report also released today, the NMC found that the 6% of people who chose not to revalidate and leave the register in the last year is in line with both the last three years and the rates seen under the previous renewal scheme before revalidation was introduced.
Most people cited retirement (53%) or no longer practising (35%) as their reason not to revalidate, which was followed by not meeting the revalidation requirements (6%) and ill health (5%).
Overall, 94% (204,545) of nurses and midwives revalidated with the NMC between April 2018 and March 2019 – a proportion that has remained ‘relatively similar’ in the first three years of revalidation.
Emma Broadbent, director of registration and revalidation at the NMC, said it was a ‘delight’ to see the high numbers of nurses and midwives choosing to evaluate across the UK.
She continued: ‘As well as successes, the independent evaluation and our latest analysis identifies some interesting insights and welcome challenge. We look forward to using this information as part of our wider organisation strategy development work to ensure we continue to grow revalidation and help support and sustain further improvements now and for the future.’
Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said revalidation was ‘valuable’ to ensuring the skills and knowledge of nurses are up-to-date.
She continued: ‘It is clearly a necessary process, and whilst we need to have a way of ensuring all our nurses continue to have the necessary skills, it should also be seen as one for learning and development rather than critical examination.
‘With nursing developing all the time, the process is a hugely valuable tool to understand where you can develop and help you to give the best possible care.’