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Redeployment: Being moved from your normal area

This guide provides information on what to do if you are asked to move for a short period of time from your normal working environment. It also provides advice for specialist nurses who are asked to work on a ward. If you are being moved due to unsustainable pressures at work this guide will also help you.

In addition, the RCN Nursing Workforce Standards are designed to support a safe and effective nursing workforce alongside each nation’s legislation. They include guidance on workforce planning and rostering.

Please note: for advice on being redeployed to help in the response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) please see the RCN advice on redeployment and COVID-19.

If you are asked to move from your normal role

Your employer can usually request that you work somewhere other than your normal environment as a temporary measure, but they must be sure about your competence level.

It may be unreasonable to refuse the move if your employer has provided sufficient training and support, and the contract of employment permits the move. However, it would be reasonable to refuse if you are being asked to work in areas where you could be putting patients and your registration at risk. Unsustainable pressures in the health service may result in you being moved and you can use the checklist below for guidance.

If you are a registered nurse you must ensure you follow the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code at all times which states that you must recognise and work within the limits of your competence.

You must speak out if the move may undermine your ability to follow the Code.

See our checklist below to help you:

  • assess your situation
  • consider if your employer has met their responsibilities
  • decide whether any further support is needed.

If you are being moved to a different area consider the following:

1. Your contract and pay

It is important to check that your contract and local policy allows you to be moved. You should not experience any detriment in relation to your pay or your terms and conditions of employment. If your contract does not allow you to be moved, discuss this with your manager and contact us for advice.

2. Security systems and IT

Consider whether you will need an induction to the relevant security systems, telephone and alarm systems, along with incident reporting IR1/Datix system and record keeping procedures (see below).

3. Your role and responsibilities

The specific duties and responsibilities of the role along with your level of competence should be discussed from the outset. We expect employers to carefully consider your individual circumstances along with your experiences and skills before deciding to move you. Consider if there are any areas of concern and discuss these with your manager.

4. Your team

As part of your induction to the new role you should be given information about your line manager, the team around you and each team members competencies. It is reasonable to make enquiries about other staff and their competencies. Any areas of concern should be escalated and reported to senior managers.

You may need more information about:

  • essential contacts (for example who is on call)
  • senior staff on shift
  • supervision and support arrangements. 

5. Your working time 

Your employer must comply with your contract of employment and local policies in addition to meeting the requirements of the Working Time Regulations. They must also ensure that appropriate arrangements for recording and accruing overtime and TOIL are in place, and any related payments are made. 

6. Your work area

You may need an induction to the clinical area which should cover:

  • policies and procedures
  • the infection status of the clinical setting
  • access to and appropriate use of any equipment that might be needed in your role
  • moving and handling (access to equipment, procedures)
  • location of toilets and staff room/lockers/drinking water
  • working times, rota and break allocation.

7. Opportunities 

Although moving areas can be unsettling, there could be opportunities to working in a different environment. Consider how you might use the experience and reflect on it for your revalidation.

8. Concerns

If you are delayed returning to your substantive role, discuss this with your manager and if you still have concerns, contact us for advice. If you have health and safety concerns, for example, as a result of unsustainable pressures you may also want to see our raising concerns guidance.

There is no mutuality of obligation in a Bank arrangement – each placement is individual, and you can choose whether to accept or not.

If you have accepted a bank shift and you are asked to move, there should be a discussion about whether or not you are willing to change the agreement that was originally made. You need to be happy that you are competent to work in the other area. The same considerations apply regarding your environment, your patients and your work.
Your bank contract may contain a clause stating that you could be disciplined if you refuse to move, however you can refuse to move if you have reasonable grounds. See our section on refusal above and discuss your concerns immediately. It is important to also document them to prevent any future action being taken against you.

Your employer is responsible for the skills and knowledge levels of its staff. If you, as a nurse or midwife, accept responsibility for practice which is beyond your capability and which has resulted in errors in practice, both you and your employer are accountable: you for failing to acknowledge your limitations, and your employer for failing to ensure that you have the appropriate skills and knowledge.

Employers can usually ask specialist nurses to work on wards, however if the specialist nurse has any doubt about their competence they must decline and give reasons why. For example, they may state that they have not worked on a ward for over 10 years so are not up to date, or that they would be working outside their professional Code.

If you are a specialist nurse who does not feel competent to work in a new area, you should discuss your concerns with your employer, document what you have discussed and contact us if the matter is not resolved. 

If you agree to the move, you should start to collate evidence of how the move will impact on your own area of work. You may need this evidence to show that this way of managing staffing problems will only have a knock on effect in other areas.

COVID-19 and changing roles

Find answers to your questions about Covid-19 (coronavirus) and redeployment.
Fair pay for nursing #fairpayfornursing

Fair Pay for Nursing

Find out more about the Fair Pay for Nursing campaign and how you can get involved.

Unsustainable pressures

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified existing pressures on staffing and resources in all health and care settings.

This resource has been designed to support members in delivering safe and effective care and with the difficult decisions they make every day.

Your contract

Get answers to your contract questions including notice queries and whether your employer can change your contract.

Page last updated - 30/05/2022