Former nurses and midwives wishing to re-join the NMC register and return to practice will be offered a £1,000 incentive, HEE has announced today, amid concerns around staff shortages.
Previously, those looking to return to practice were offered £500 to help pay for expenses such as childcare, books and travel costs.
But HEE said it increased the cash incentive to encourage more former practitioners to return to work. There are currently 38,952 nursing vacancies, according to the latest NHS Digital data, while the Royal College of Midwifery estimates an extra 2,000 midwives are needed to provide optimum care.
HEE will continue to cover return to practice course fees. Returners will also be able to attend the courses and undertake their clinical practice learning on a flexible or part-time basis, it said.
Mark Radford, HEE chief nurse, said the incentive was increased to ‘help encourage more people to come back into nursing and midwifery’ and that ‘returners bring back valuable expertise’.
He continued: ‘We will work with universities to support those that choose to do so in the best possible way, equipping them with academic skills and lifelong learning as well as new and enhanced clinical skills.’
The HEE return to practice programme includes ‘enhanced offers’ in some specialty areas such as mental health, learning disability, cancer nursing as well as midwifery.
Some trusts will pay their return to practice trainees at a Band 3 level until they have signed back onto the NMC register. These returners can be offered a Band 3 salaried role while they complete their training, in place of the £1,000 incentive.
The programme has supported 7,978 nurse returners since it began. Currently, 25 universities across England offer return to practice nursing and midwifery courses.
HEE also offers funding for the NMC Test of Competence route back to practice, if a nurse or midwife does not have enough practice hours to be readmitted to the register.
Former nurses and midwives were encouraged to return to practice as part of the NMC emergency register during the Covid-19 pandemic.