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Nursing and Midwifery Council

A guide for RCN members covers key areas such as registration, revalidation, preceptorship and NMC investigations.

Find out more about joining the RCN.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was set up by Parliament to protect the public. Its aim is to ensure that nurses and midwives provide high standards of care to their patients and clients. Please refer to the NMC website for a full explanation on registration and qualification codes and also for the NMC Code of professional standards.

Keeping your NMC details up to date

It is important to inform the NMC of any changes to your contact details. They will send out renewal documents 45 days before the date of periodic renewal or annual retention.

Lapsed registration 

This is a serious issue as it is a criminal offence to practice as a nurse if you are not registered with the NMC. If your registration has lapsed you cannot practice as a nurse, midwife, or specialist community public health nurse. If you are appropriately qualified, you may be able to practice in a health care assistant role, but these hours cannot be counted towards the practice requirement.

You should:

  • tell your line manager immediately of your situation and keep them informed of developments
  • contact the NMC to discuss re-application.

If you allow your registration to lapse, you may be liable to disciplinary action, dependent on local policy. Your employer could suspend you or require you to work as an unqualified carer until your registration is up to date. Read about discipline and dismissal processes and contact us if your employer is taking disciplinary action against you.

See the ‘Staying on the Register’ and the 'Readmission' section of the NMC’s website for more information.

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The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) strongly recommends that all new registrants have a period of preceptorship when commencing employment.

Anyone who has entered a new part of the register and those newly admitted to the register from other European economic area states and other nation states also should receive a period of preceptorship.

A period of preceptorship should help the newly qualified nurse develop the confidence to practise competently as a nurse, midwife or specialist community health nurse. The preceptorship period should also ensure the newly-qualified nurse is familiar with and meets their obligations under the NMC code.

NMC guidance on preceptorship

Please see the NMC website and Standards to support learning and assessment in practice.

Preceptorship frameworks

NHS Employers has guidance on preceptorship for newly qualified staff.

The Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery (NIPEC) has more information on preceptorship, which includes a preceptorship framework and other guidance.

Preceptorship outside the NHS

If you are employed outside the NHS, there is currently no requirement for your employer to provide a period of preceptorship although the NMC and the RCN would recommend it. Speak to your employer to clarify their preceptorship arrangements.

Preceptorship within the NHS

Those employed within the NHS should refer to the Agenda for Change terms and conditions handbook, particularly section 1.8 which clearly defines how the period of preceptorship is supported within the NHS.

An NHS employer is obliged to provide you with a period of preceptorship in your first year as an employee. You should check your employer’s preceptorship policy for details of the specific arrangements in place.

Accelerated pay progression

*Important note: this accelerated pay progression during preceptorship is withdrawn for staff in England with effect from 1 April 2013 and withdrawn for staff in Wales with effect from 1 January 2015 (see paragraph 1.8 and 1.9 of section 1(a) of the Agenda for Change terms and conditions handbook for more information).

If you are joining the NHS as a new entrant you will also have accelerated pay progression through the first two incremental pay points in six monthly steps*. In practice this means that the new entrant will move up one pay point after six months and a further point after twelve months, providing those responsible for the relevant standards in the organisation are satisfied with their standard of practice.

Some members may experience difficulty obtaining the appropriate level of payment during their preceptorship period. Our view is that, subject to satisfactory performance, all members of staff who qualify should benefit from this incremental rise and that employers cannot opt out since this rise is part of the Agenda for Change terms and conditions.

In the first instance, once you have clarified whether you qualify for the payment in line with the above, you should talk to your employer and remind them of their obligation under Agenda for Change. If your employer refuses you this incremental rise then contact us for advice.

Further information

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Agenda for Change Knowledge and Skills Framework RCN Learning Zone NHS Employers search for ‘preceptorship’ Flying Start NHS Flying Start NHS is designed to support the transition from student to newly qualified health professional by supporting learning in everyday practice through a range of learning activities.

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Revalidation is the way in which nurses and midwives demonstrate every three years to the NMC that they continue to practice safely and effectively and can remain on the register.

In order to revalidate, every nurse and midwife will have to declare to the NMC that they are meeting the standards outlined in the NMC code, have received confirmation from a third party that this is true, and are able to offer evidence which shows how this has been achieved.  

The NMC's revalidation microsite has all the information you need to guide you through revalidation. This includes information for confirmers and employers.

The RCN has information and advice to support members through revalidation, including case studies and guidance on how to revalidate with the NMC.

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NMC investigations

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is an organisation set up by Parliament to protect the public. If an allegation is made about a nurse or midwife they will investigate whether that individual’s ‘fitness to practise’ is impaired. The NMC can consider referrals from a number of different sources, including patients, members of the public, the police and employers. If the referral is inappropriate it can be closed at initial screening phase.

The NMC investigate allegations in four broad areas:

  • Misconduct - physical or verbal abuse of colleagues, members of the public, theft and significant failure to keep proper records.   
  • Lack of competence - nurses who over a prolonged period of time, make repeated errors or who show lack of skill or knowledge or inability to work as part of a team or difficulty communicating with colleagues or people in their care.     
  • Bad character - serious cautions or convictions arising from theft, fraud, violence, sexual offences, drug dealing or dishonesty. Driving offences such as speeding or parking tickets are unlikely to be considered by the regulator.  
  • Ill-health - long term untreated alcohol or drug dependence and serious mental illness that is not managed. Many people with disabilities and those with long-term health conditions are able to practise with or without adjustments.   

The NMC’s investigation process  

The NMC's investigation process is detailed on the NMC website. You can also take a virtual tour of one of their hearing centres. If you are facing investigation and possible NMC referral, please see our guidance here. It explains what to expect and how the RCN can support you.

You cannot be investigated by the NMC for fitness to practise if you are no longer registered, but can be investigated if the investigation started before your registration lapsed. Please note, you have an obligation under the NMC Code to inform any employers if your fitness to practise is called into question. Call us for advice on 0345 772 6100 and read the Code in full at NMC. 

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Restoration to the NMC register

If you have been struck off the NMC register, you can apply for restoration after five years.

Please visit the NMC website for more information and call us for advice on 0345 772 6100.

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Registered nurses/midwives working as HCA or other non-registered support roles

There is nothing to prevent nurses or midwives working in support roles if they choose. There are, however, a number of issues to consider including accountability (professional and legal), employment liability (vicarious) and revalidation.

For revalidation, you will need to have achieved a minimum of 450 practice hours over the three year period since your registration was last renewed, or you joined the register.  Hours undertaken in any healthcare, nursing or midwifery assistant or support worker roles cannot be counted towards practice hours as a registered nurse or midwife.

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Call the RCN on: 03457726100

Page last updated - 25/01/2018