In response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, we've introduced a number of emergency and recovery education standards to support students, approved education institutions (AEIs) and their practice partners.
These are temporary changes to the standards which set out how education providers should organise nursing and midwifery programmes.
Recent changes to the standards
We withdrew our remaining emergency standards on 30 September 2021. Our recovery standards are still in place for AEIs to use, however the majority of these will be removed on 30 September 2022. Recovery standards RN5, RN5.1 and RN6(D) relating to training and practice hours, described in more detail, will remain in place.
Applying these standards
Training and practice hours
All courses must still comply with the minimum training hours' requirements of 4600 programme hours.
For nursing programmes, 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 where the recovery standards have been adopted.
In November 2021, we increased the allowance to 600 hours for those AEIs who can demonstrate that they have the capacity and capability to do so.
Unlike our other recovery standards, AEIs need to seek NMC approval before implementing the new discretionary standard, RN6(D). They will need to provide evidence that they have the appropriate resources and infrastructure to implement it effectively and safely.
AEIs implementing the new standard will also need to show how they will evaluate the increased use of simulation. This evaluation will support our ongoing work to update our education programme standards.
Student nurses’ final placement before registration, though, should be in a conventional clinical placement.
Background to these changes
Introduction of emergency and recovery standards
At the start of the pandemic we introduced emergency education standards to allow more flexibility in programme delivery - specifically to allow students to undertake extended placements without the requirement for supernumerary status to support the health and care workforce.
We phased out the majority of the emergency standards on 30 September 2020 to support students returning to their normal studies and supernumerary placements.
We identified a number of emergency programme standards which were kept as recovery standards.
Updates to our emergency standards
Following a request from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in January 2021, we re-introduced a set of emergency standards to allow extended placements for final year nursing students only, so that they could once again support the response to Covid-19 where required by services and if students opted to do so.
This did not apply to all other undergraduate nursing and midwifery students and post-graduate diploma/masters students, who continued to have supernumerary status when on clinical placements.
These emergency standards were withdrawn in May 2021.
We 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 faced in supporting student clinical placements.
These emergency standards were withdrawn on 30 September 2021.
Introduction of a new recovery standard
In February 2021, after engaging with our partners across the UK, we introduced an additional recovery standard to enable nursing students to practice and learn through simulated practice learning (for up to 300 hours) where conventional clinical practice isn’t available or isn’t possible.
In November 2021 Council also approved another new recovery standard - RN6(D) - to increase the allowance to 600 hours for those AEIs who can demonstrate that they have the capacity and capability to do so.
These standards will now remain in effect while we consider the permanent changes we might make to our education programme standards, following the UK’s departure from the EU.
Information for students and educators
Visit our Covid-19: Information for students and educators page for more information on what this means for you.