Update from the Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC about nursing students and the temporary register

Published on 07 May 2020

An update from Andrea Sutcliffe about nursing students and the temporary register.

Covid-19 is an unprecedented global situation that has put our health and social care system under pressure in ways we have never seen before. We are grateful to everyone who has come forward to support the health and social care workforce during this time. Thousands of nurses and midwives are now on the Covid-19 temporary register and thousands more students have taken an extended clinical placement. This is a national effort that we should all be proud of.

In our first joint statement about the Covid-19 temporary register, we agreed two actions in relation to nursing students in the final six months of their education programme.

Firstly, that we would change our education standards for undergraduate nursing and midwifery students so that they can choose to take the final six months of their programme as a clinical placement. We felt this was a sensible first step as it would allow students to choose to support the response to Covid-19 whilst also completing their education.

Secondly, as we anticipated that there may be additional extraordinary pressure on health and social care services due to the pandemic, we also set out that a further stage would be for us to establish a specific student part of the temporary register for nursing students in the final six months of their programme.

In collaboration with the four UK Chief Nursing Officers, the Council of Deans of Health, the Royal Colleges and trade unions, we have been closely monitoring the ongoing and future workforce requirements and progression of the pandemic since March, and discussing the developing situation together at regular meetings.

Based on these discussions, we have now made the decision not to establish a specific student part of the temporary register for nursing students. This is for three key reasons:

  1. The likely impact of the pandemic on our health and social care system has changed. Back in March when we wrote our joint statement, our priority was clear – to rapidly expand the nursing and midwifery workforce so that as many people as possible would be available to deal with the anticipated short term pressures on services. Covid-19 has been devastating to thousands of families and communities, but services have not been overwhelmed in the way we all initially feared. However, it is clear we will need to sustain the numbers of fully qualified nursing and midwifery professionals to support services in the medium to long term.

  2. A high number of students have decided to opt-in to extended clinical placements. We have listened to what students, universities and our professional partners have told us and a great deal of the feedback has been positive. The placements are working well to allow students to support services whilst also completing their learning.

  3. Deployment of professionals on the temporary register has not been at the level we were expecting. There are a number of people already on the temporary register and available to work but not currently deployed into services. We are working with partners across the UK to support these people who are waiting to return to practice.

With all of this in mind, it would not be appropriate to significantly expand the temporary register by inviting nursing students to join it. We have arrived at this decision after very careful consideration of the needs of health and care services in all four countries; taking advice from the four Chief Nursing Officers and their teams; and mindful of the expressed views of students, universities and their respective representative bodies.

We know that there were some students who wanted to join the temporary register and were looking forward to providing further support to health and social care colleagues. We also know that there were other students who were anxious and unsure of joining the temporary register. Either way, please be assured that our collective priority for students is to ensure they are supported to complete their education in a timely manner and begin their careers as qualified, registered professionals as planned.

If you are a student yourself, we know that you may have questions about what this decision means for you. The table that is attached to this statement should help answer any questions you have.

We have discussed this decision with the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, UNISON, and Unite who may be able to offer you advice. Your university will also be able to support you during this time.

The response and cooperation of nursing and midwifery students over the past weeks has been phenomenal and fills us with real confidence for the future of our professions. Whatever your individual situation and decisions about your placement and future career, thank you for everything you are doing.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE
Chief Executive and Registrar

  Nursing students in final 6 months of their programme All other nursing and midwifery students 
  Previously Now Previously Now
Were they being considered to go on temporary register? Considering the possibility of them joining the temporary register Will not be invited to the temporary register. Instead students will liaise with their university to discuss when they are ready to join the full register. Not considered suitable to go on the temporary register No change

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