Joint statement on expanding the Covid-19 temporary register to overseas-trained nurses

Published on 05 January 2021

Update in relation to the expansion of the temporary register to overseas-trained nurses to support the health and care workforce response to the pandemic over the winter period.

We remain indebted for the amazing contribution that nursing and midwifery professionals and their colleagues have provided in response to the Covid-19 pandemic so far.

We also recognise the incredibly challenging situation facing them as the entire health and care system now responds to rising infection rates and related hospital admissions alongside winter pressures and the vital roll out of the vaccination programme.

What we are doing now

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is taking immediate action by inviting additional overseas-trained nurses to join its Covid-19 temporary register to help strengthen workforce capacity in the immediate period and coming weeks.

Objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) centres remain open to support these professionals - some of whom will already be working in health and care settings – to continue their journey to permanent registration.

However, in the interests of supporting the current emergency situation as quickly as possible, we recognise the value of the temporary register running in parallel with this process so eligible candidates can choose to work as temporarily registered nurses with conditions of practice, if they wish to do so.

While the entire workforce is under significant pressure, current ring-fencing of maternity services is maintaining midwifery care for women, babies and families. We are agreed that no overseas-trained midwives will be invited to join the temporary register at this time.

Who is being invited to join the temporary register?

The NMC will open the temporary register to the following two additional cohorts of overseas-trained nurses:

  1. Overseas-trained nurses who have been issued with their OSCE decision letters, of which there are currently just over 2,000 people.
  2. Overseas-trained nurses from whom the NMC has received a registration application and relevant supporting declarations. We will ask employers to work with the NMC to identify who they wish to include on the temporary register from this group and to provide certification regarding each applicant’s English language ability, clinical skills, and health and character.

The NMC's temporary registration web page explains the process the NMC will follow to open the temporary register to these cohorts and how it will provide adequate assurance of their suitability to practise during this emergency.

Supporting black, Asian and minority ethnic professionals

A significant proportion of those overseas-trained nurses who are eligible to join the temporary register will be from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Given what is known about the impact of Covid-19 on people from black and ethnic minority groups, it is crucial that partners across the health and care system take full responsibility for protecting these professionals from additional risks. Workforce risks assessments should be used where these exist.

Additional temporary register support

While the temporary register is extended to these new groups of professionals, we want to reiterate that all the routes onto the temporary register which were set up in 2020 are still in place and remain open.

We encourage employers to continue to use the temporary register to expand their workforce, including to support the roll out of the urgent vaccine programme.

In conclusion

Nursing and midwifery professionals across the UK are working harder than ever to care for people in this pandemic. We want to thank you all for your dedication, professionalism and commitment at such a difficult time. Thank you to all of you who have already stepped forward to support the challenge we face, and to those we are now inviting to take that step.

We welcome you. We support you. We stand together with you.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer, England
Professor Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, Scotland
Professor Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer, Northern Ireland
Professor Jean White CBE, Chief Nursing Officer, Wales
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar, NMC

Download the signed joint statement on expanding the Covid-19 temporary register to overseas-trained nurses to support the health and care workforce response to the pandemic over the winter period.

Further information

For more detailed information on carrying out workforce risk assessments please see the following resources:

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