Covid-19 emergency rules consultation

Learn about next steps in this consultation

We held a public consultation to get your views on how our Covid-19 emergency rules should be used going forward to make sure that we introduce any permanent changes in the best way.

The consultation took place between 4 November 2020 and 15 January 2021.

We're hugely grateful to all those who participated.


At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Social Care introduced new rules which gave us powers to make some urgent changes to ensure our core regulatory work could continue.

As we don't know when the emergency will end, these powers have since been made available to us on a permanent basis.

The lasting impact of Covid-19 means that we will need these powers into the future, and we know some changes could help us work more effectively.

We weren't able to consult when the rules were introduced due to the emergency situation, but we know it wouldn't be appropriate to use our new powers indefinitely without consulting.

Key changes we consulted on

We asked for your feedback on:

  • our use of virtual meetings and hearings
  • public access to hearings
  • the number of independent fitness to practise panel members
  • our use of email to communicate notices of a hearing, and
  • our use of extensions for revalidation and fee payment.

Consultation documents


Watch this webinar recording to learn more about the proposals.

Your responses

There were 160 responses to the online consultation and a further 25 participants from representative groups who took part in focus groups.

Those responding to the consultation highlighted a number of benefits to the new rules, such as time savings for attendees and reduced travel and accommodation costs by holding hearings virtually. The changes also resulted in speed and cost benefits from communicating by email rather than post; and fairness in allowing revalidation extensions in exceptional circumstances.

We commissioned an independent research agency, Pye Tait, to analyse the responses and produce a consultation report.

Download the consultation analysis report.

Next steps

At its meeting on 24 March 2021, our Council approved the following recommendations about how we should use these powers in the future:

  • We will continue to use the powers after 31 March 2021 and once the emergency is over.
  • We will not have fitness to practise panels without a nurse, midwife or nursing associate outside of a national emergency. We will only use panels of two members rather than three in exceptional circumstances, and only with the agreement of both the professional and the NMC. For example, if a non-registrant member were to fall ill during a hearing and adjourning would cause a substantial delay.
  • We will grant limited extensions to revalidation application dates in exceptional circumstances. We will do this in line with the way we worked prior to the emergency and in line with our 'How to revalidate' guidance.
  • We will amend our guidance to reflect any changes we have proposed. At the end of the emergency period we will review our guidance again and will clearly set out how we propose to use our powers. We will keep our guidance under review to reflect our own and others' experience.

We will take the following approach to how we operate:

  • We will hold hearings virtually where it is fair and practical to do so. The consultation provided us with feedback on where this might not be fair or practical, for example where people may not have access to the right technology or to a suitable environment.
  • We will offer audio-only access to our virtual hearings, with a video stream available from our hearings centre. Video access from home will only be possible if required as a reasonable adjustment.
  • We will continue to send notices by email where we have an approved email address. In response to consultation feedback, we will require a read receipt when using email. If we don't receive a receipt or other confirmation the email has been received we will follow this up in other ways such as a phone call.

We will keep our approach under review in order to make sure we have got the balance right and that we reflect any developments in our own or others’ experience.