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On 1st April 2016, the Nursing and Midwifery Council introduced a revalidation process for all registered nurses and midwives working in the UK.

The aims of this new process are to increase awareness of required professional standards and the Code of Practice, to allow nurses the chance to reflect on their work and how these standards apply, to keep staff updated on current developments and to foster the growth of professional networks within which best practice is shared and disseminated. It is intended that these changes will increase public confidence in the profession.

Each registration period lasts for three years, during which members are expected to meet various requirements. These include 450 hours of professional practice (or 900 if you are registered as a midwife as well as a nurse) and 35 hours of continued professional development (CPD). There must be evidence of five pieces of feedback relating to practice, five written pieces reflecting on CPD undertaken, and reflection on these accounts with a fellow registered nurse or midwife. In addition, nurses will also have to make a declaration about their health and good character, demonstrate that they have professional indemnity cover and get confirmation from another professional (such as a line manager) that they meet all revalidation requirements.

CPD is not prescribed, although it should relate directly to current practice. The required 35 hours of CPD must include 20 hours of participatory learning - that is learning alongside other professionals or in a group setting. This can be either in a work based study group or other physical location, or virtual, such as in an online group. Learning can be blended by combining online learning with a colleague discussion about the issues involved and how they relate to, or can improve, the care provided.

The revalidation process is clearly defined. A portfolio is submitted using NMC Online (on which a nurse ought to already be registered). Failure to make a submission has serious consequences – most importantly, registration will lapse, making it illegal to continue to practise. Registration will not be reinstated unless and until the revalidation process has been adequately completed. The NMC will be performing random checks on submitted portfolios. As such, any evidence needs to be retained in order for a line manager or other health professional to confirm that the required study and learning has, in fact, taken place.

Although these changes are significant, the intention is to improve patient care by requiring nurses and midwives to reflect on their practice, to share best practice within the profession, and to allow opportunity to keep up with technological developments. It's also about assuring patients that they are being cared for by well-trained, competent professionals who are skilled in translating knowledge into practice.