Recovery and emergency programme standards

In response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, we've developed some recovery and emergency programme standards

In response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, we've introduced some temporary changes to our standards for education. These are the standards which set out how education providers should organise nursing and midwifery programmes.

At the start of the pandemic, we introduced emergency education standards to allow more flexibility in programme delivery, and specifically to allow students to undertake extended placements without the requirement for supernumerary status to support the health and social care workforce.

Emergency standards which allowed extended placements were withdrawn in September 2020, but other standards were retained as “recovery” standards, to allow flexibility in the way programmes were delivered during the ongoing pandemic.

In recent weeks, health and care services and the workforce have again come under increasing and extreme pressure.

In January 2021, we received a request from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care supported by the Chief Executive of the NHS in England, to reintroduce emergency standards to allow extended placements in relation to final year nursing students only, so that they could once again support the response to Covid-19, where this is required by services and where students opt to do so.

Following careful consideration by the NMC and after listening to the views of the UK's Chief Nursing Officers, the Council of Deans of Health, and other partners, we reviewed the Secretary of State's request and agreed to reintroduce emergency education standards for final year nursing students.

The emergency education standards allowing extended clinical placements do not apply to all other undergraduate nursing and midwifery students and post-graduate diploma/masters students. These students continue to have supernumerary status when on clinical placements, will continue with their studies as planned.

Additional emergency standards

We've also agreed to introduce two additional emergency standards relating to first year nursing and midwifery students and supervision and assessment in practice, following advice from the service and AEIs about some of the difficulties they are facing in supporting student clinical placements.

Additional recovery standards

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the number and range of practice placements available. This is constraining the opportunities for students to gain experience and learn in practice. After engaging with partners across the UK, in February 2021 we decided to introduce a new recovery standard to ensure that the generation of nurses studying during the pandemic are not disadvantaged in their learning as a result.

The introduction of the new recovery standard allows student nurses to practise and learn through simulated practice learning experiences where clinical practice isn’t available or isn’t possible.

Approved education institutions (AEIs) can chose how best to apply this recovery standard, considering local circumstances, availability of placements and individual students’ need.

Even in normal circumstances, different universities will have different approaches to make sure that learning outcomes are met and our standards do not prevent that. We don't expected that this recovery standard will be applied in the same way in every programme, but we've asked universities to discuss this with their students so that they can understand the approach, what will happen locally and the reasons for that.

A key principle in relation to all of our emergency and recovery standards is that normal education should continue wherever possible. The emergency and recovery standards are mainly for situations where that is not possible.

If you’re a student, you should speak to your university if you have any questions about your practice learning and placements.

The amount of practice learning time spent in simulated practice learning experience can be up to a maximum of 300 hours across a programme’s duration. Student nurses’ final placement before registration, though, should be in a conventional clinical placement.

We’ll ask AEIs to report back to us about how they are applying our recovery standards and how they’re maintaining students practice learning opportunities and ensuring achievement of proficiencies.

This new recovery standard is in addition to the recovery standards and emergency standards we’ve published over the past few months. As with all our other recovery standards, we’ll review these standards regularly.

Download the Current emergency and recovery programme standards (Cymraeg).

Using the standards

The updated emergency and recovery education standards:

  • enable first year nursing and midwifery students to focus on academic and online learning rather than participating in clinical placements while the system is under pressure due to the pandemic.
  • enable final year nursing students to opt in to undertake paid clinical placements while the emergency standard is in place.
  • give education institutions and their practice learning partners more flexibility to ensure students get appropriate support and supervision.
  • ensure the next generation of nurses qualify in a timely way with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver safe, effective and kind care.
  • enable students to practise and learn through simulated practice learning where conventional clinical practice isn’t available or isn’t possible.

In all aspects, normal education should continue where it's possible to do so.

All courses must still comply with the minimum training hours' requirements of 4600 programme hour, of which no more than two thirds should be spend in practice placement.

Information for students and educators

Visit our Covid-19: Information for students and educators page for more information on what this means for you.