I know that all reading this piece today will share concern that Prime Minister, Boris Johnson remains in the ITU at St Thomas’s Hospital London this morning suffering from persistent symptoms of Coronavirus. It goes without saying that we all wish him well and a speedy recovery.)
On a day that the World Health Organisation highlighted the shortage of nursing staff around the world and forecast that, without action, there will be a worldwide shortage of 4.6 million nurses by 2030 unless greater investment is made, allow me this morning in these particularly difficult times to highlight my shock on finding out that each individual nurse or midwife working in NHS hospitals is required to pay an annual £120 charge for revalidation, one that is not even tax deductible.
The revalidation process for nurses, midwives and nursing associates working in the UK started in April 2016. No one is complaining that introduction of the revalidation process was unnecessary or that it has failed to bring benefits and peace of mind. The issue is who should pay for the annual cost.
Best to see the revalidation process required for nursing staff and midwives as maintaining a right to hold an individual licence to professionally practice and demonstrate care. The process was introduced not only to provide reassurance to the public but importantly, to demonstrate to professional colleagues and public alike that each nurse employed by the NHS or in the private sector come to that, is practising safely and effectively.
Revalidation also serves to encourage each member of the medical profession to reflect on the role of the ‘Code of Practice’ and demonstrate that each nurse is ‘living’ the standards set out within this.
So far, so good and few would disagree that revalidation process for nursing staff and midwives every three years is sensible. But what I had not been aware of is that, on top of all the additional work required of nurses in order to go through a revalidation process, rather than the NHS employer paying the cost of this it is the individual nurse that is required to pay. This is appalling – NHS nurses can hardly be regarded as being very well paid and this additional cost requirement may well be one of many reasons why the nursing profession struggles to bring enough new people in to train.
To make matters even worse, I understand that HMG and The Treasury have written the rules for revalidation in such a way that means nursing staff are not even allowed to claim the tax back on the £120 fee that they are required to pay to retain licence/registration that forms the three yearly revalidation process.
Bad enough that nursing staff, who as I have already said, are hardly to be regarded as being well paid in relation to the fantastic and often dangerous job that they do, but that they are also being required to pay an annual £120 fee in order to be revalidated every three years but that this fee is not tax deductible is an absolute national disgrace. So here is my challenge:
Wouldn’t it be a truly wonderful and much needed gesture if, rather than saying that this is a matter for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to sort, that our highly respected Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock and our new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak agree today and that they announce on behalf of a grateful nation, that from now on revalidation costs for nurses and midwives will be paid for by the NHS.
Doctors are also required to undertake an annual appraisal process of course, one in which they are then scrutinised by fellow practitioners. This requires, for instance, that each year they undertake 50 hours of additional training through attending specialist courses, updating their knowledge and learning. They must also revalidate every five years. In order to remain on the medical register each practicing doctor is required to pay the General Medical Council the following:
Annual retention fee for registration with a licence from April 1st this year £406.
Annual retention fee for registration without a licence to practise from April 1st this year £145.
In addition, from April 1st this year the revalidation annual return fee rises to £260 and a revalidation assessment fee to £1,146.
I am here and now not about to make a similar case that Doctors should not have to pay annual retention fee costs but I would point out that in addition to the brilliant work that they do most sensible GP’s, be they NHS or private, pay a huge-sums for annual professional indemnity and liability insurance out of their own pockets.
CHW (London – 7th April 2020)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785