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NMC could register former nurses who left more than three years ago

Former nurses and midwives who left the register more than three years ago could be invited to rejoin during the coronavirus outbreak, NMC papers have revealed.

The NMC could also ask final year student nurses and overseas staff in the UK to join the register temporarily, depending on the severity and duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, the regulator’s council agreed yesterday.

This comes after the Coronavirus Bill, which has cleared the House of Lords and was given Royal Assent yesterday, outlined emergency powers for health regulators to temporarily register ‘fit, proper and suitably experienced’ professionals.

Yesterday’s NMC council papers said: ‘We have already identified other groups of people who we consider may meet the requirements for temporary registration depending on the overall evolution of this pandemic and the severity of the resulting workforce shortages.

‘Such groups include final year nursing students and former registrants who left the register more than three years ago,’ it added.

The NMC said it would introduce specific ‘conditions of practice’ for potential nursing students in their final six months of training to join the register.

This would ‘reflect the fact that they have not yet completed their pre-registration programme’, it added.

However, it will not invite midwifery students or trainee nursing associates to join the temporary register.

This is because of the ‘high level of clinical autonomy’ expected of newly qualified midwives, and the newness and shortness of the two-year nursing associate programme, introduced in 2017.

The regulator has already put out a call to former nurses and midwives who left the register more than three years ago with more than 5,000 joining as of Sunday.

In addition, it has said student nurses and midwives will be invited to complete the last six months of their programme as a paid clinical placement, and announced ways in which other students can help.