We understand that students, approved education institutions and their practice partners continue to experience unprecedented challenges as the pandemic continues and the new academic year commences.
Student nurses, midwives and nursing associates provide a significant contribution to nursing and midwifery teams and the delivery of safe, effective and person-centred care whilst on placement.
We’re absolutely committed to supporting the safe placement of students in practice so that they can contribute to the care of people.
Changes we’ve made
At the start of the pandemic, we introduced a set of emergency standards to:
- enable student nurses and midwives in the final six months of their programme to complete their training in appropriate placement settings
- give education institutions and their practice learning partners more flexibility to ensure students get appropriate support and supervision
- enable students to use their knowledge and skills appropriately during this time of crisis to support the care of people
With the pandemic continuing we will be phasing out the majority of the emergency standards on 30 September 2020 to support students returning to their normal studies and supernumerary placements.
As the standards are facilitative rather than directive AEIs can choose to return to normal ahead of that date.
We have identified a number of emergency programme standards which will be retained, or slightly modified, as recovery standards.
What this means for students
Our emergency and recovery standards enable more flexibility to ensure students receive appropriate support and supervision.
Approved education institutions (AEIs) and their practice partners will be regularly reviewing risks and communicating any impact this might have on their students to us.
Apprenticeships (England only)
Nursing and midwifery apprenticeships
The recovery standards will apply to both students undertaking a nursing or midwifery degree apprenticeship (NDA and MDA).
During the Covid-19 pandemic, your employer might need to deploy you to support the workforce, which might affect how your programme is delivered and its duration. If you’re employed, your education institutions will need to work with employers to support any changes to the way their programmes are delivered. This might mean that some courses are deferred.
Nursing associate apprenticeships
Some of our recovery standards apply to all NMC approved education programmes, and therefore will apply to our approved nursing associate (NA) programmes.
However, we do recognise that most nursing associate students are on apprenticeship based programmes, and employers may call their students back into practice during the emergency period. This might mean that some courses are deferred.
End Point Assessments
If you’re due to take your End Point Assessment as a NDA, MDA or NA, the Institute for Apprenticeships is supporting new flexibilities. These are for Registered Nurse (RN) Degree Apprentices and Nursing Associate (NA) Apprentices that reflect the adjustments we have made with regard to professional registration in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
With immediate effect and during the Covid-19 emergency, any RN and NA apprentices who have completed the NMC approved programme; been assessed by the NMC as having permanently met the requirements for Professional Registration; and passed through the apprenticeship gateway will be regarded to have met the EPA requirements and have achieved their apprenticeship.
This change will only be applied to qualifying apprentices during the Covid-19 emergency. If you have concerns you should seek advice from your education institution and your employer about this. You can find more information about this in the government's latest guidance or through the Institute for Apprenticeships.
Information for education institutions
Any changes made by educational institutions to accommodate NDA, MDA, and NA students to work in practice should be accounted for and reported to us using the Covid-19 exceptional reporting form.
As registered nurses and midwives, we know that being in the position to contribute to the nursing and midwifery workforce during this time might affect your studies. Maximising the workforce continues to be our priority, and we hope that your programme is gaining some normality at this time, but we recognise some programmes may take longer to complete.
Education institutions will need to report any changes to the programmes, or risks because of the change, with our Covid-19 exceptional reporting form.
Nurses and midwives on prescribing programmes will continue to contribute to the delivery of care in their usual place of work or be deployed as necessary by their employer.
We encourage students to continue their programme to completion by working closely with the education institution's, who can continue to provide support theory and practice. This might be achieved by changing the mode of delivery and assessment for the programme while making sure it meets our standards during the emergency period.
Programmes may have been deferred until after the emergency period is over, this may continue during the recovery phase, if it's not possible to support student's prescribing practice under supervision.
Special Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN)
Most students on the SCPHN programme will likely be in a position to contribute to the delivery of care in their current place of work.
Where possible, we encourage students and employers to continue their programme to completion. We know that people working in these areas are already being redeployed and are reducing the number of contact hours in people's homes. Programmes might have to be deferred until the emergency period is over if supervision and practice learning on these programmes isn't possible.
Specialist Practice Qualification
Registered nurses and midwives undertaking a specialist practice qualification may contribute to the delivery of care in their usual place of work or be deployed as necessary by employers.
We encourage students to continue their programme to completion. This will mean working closely with their education institutes which may be able to continue to support theory and practice by changing the modes of delivery and assessment for the programme while making sure it meets our standards.
Emergency registration for nursing students
With the support of the four UK Chief Nursing Officers, the Council of Deans of Health, the Royal Colleges and the trade unions, we've closely monitored the ongoing and future workforce requirements and the progression of the pandemic.
Informed by the views of these partners and our assessment of the current situation, we’ve made the decision not to open up the temporary register to nursing students. We've made this decision based on three key reasons:
- The nature of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed. In March, our priority was to make sure there were as many people as possible who would be available to deal with the anticipated short term pressures on services. Although Covid-19 has been devastating for thousands of families and communities, our services have not been overwhelmed in the way we initially feared.
- A high number of students have decided to opt-in to extend their clinical placements. The feedback we've received from our professional partners and students demonstrate that these placements are working to allow students to support services while also completing their learning.
- Deployment of professionals on the temporary register has not been at the level we expected.
It's clear to us that there will be a need for qualified nursing and midwifery professionals to support services in the medium to long term. Therefore, our priority is to ensure students are supported to complete their education, and begin their careers as qualified, registered professionals as planned.
The response and cooperation of nursing and midwifery students during this time has been phenomenal. It fills us with real confidence for the future of our professions, and we would like to thank you for everything you are doing.