NMC reveals emergency register plans for students and retired nurses

The regulator has reinforced that patient safety is paramount.

Ian Snug
19 March 2020
student nurse staff nurse

A joint statement from healthcare leaders has revealed the plans.

In a joint statement from healthcare leaders today, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revealed much-anticipated plans for an emergency register which will bolster the current healthcare workforce.


While no specific time-frame was provided, the plan includes recruiting recently retired nurses alongside offering a six-month clinical placement to final year student nurses.

According to the NMC; “our first focus will be to invite those nurses who have left the register within the last three years to opt in should they wish to do so.

Going forward; “Encourage those nurses who are currently on the register but not working in clinical care to consider coming into clinical practice during this time.

“Change the nature of the programme for undergraduate nursing students so that they can opt to undertake their final six months of their programme as a clinical placement.


“The next stage of the Covid-19 temporary register would be to establish a specific student part to the emergency register for students in the final six months of their programme, which would have specific conditions of practice to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place.”

Patient safety is paramount.

The regulator has reinforced that patient safety is paramount and that strict conditions of practice will be placed on those joining the emergency register.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Chief Executive and Registrar said: “The health and care service in the UK is facing an unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 pandemic and the nursing and midwifery professions are at the heart of the response to this. Thank you to everyone involved.

“As the regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK, and nursing associates in England, we have been working hard with our key partners, the UK Government and administrations in each UK country to support the response to the coronavirus pandemic. I am very grateful for the positive way everyone has engaged to come to these solutions.


“The invaluable skills, knowledge and dedication of our former nurses and midwives – and the contribution of those nursing students in the final six months of their courses – will make an incredible difference for many people in need of care and support.

“These are immensely challenging and difficult times facing our health and social care workforce, but through working together, we will get through this. Thank you once again to everyone involved.”

Helping to tackle the epidemic.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has reinforced that the recruitment of students must be a choice.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “As one of the largest professional nursing trade unions in the world, we are advising the nursing regulator on new guidance around expanding the nursing workforce during the outbreak.

“The UK Government has announced the intention for final year students to be able, if they wish, to spend the last six months of their degree in clinical placement. We have been clear that this must be a matter of individual choice for students, and that they must benefit from appropriate terms and conditions, as well as appropriate support and supervision during the placements. This includes being fairly remunerated and only being asked to carry out duties they are comfortable with.


“Recently retired nurses will also be allowed to return to practice under some circumstances. Anyone wishing to return must have full employment protection and be paid according to complexity and responsibility of role. Retired nurses who wish to return must be supported and provided with training, as well as given full employment status and protection.

“We will also support members currently working in non-clinical roles who are willing to return to clinical practice during the outbreak.”

A copy of the full statement can be found here.

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