Not only does the NMC require you to pay your registration fee annually, you are also required to hold professional indemnity.
When you first apply for registration with the NMC, and every time you undergo revalidation in the future, you will be asked to complete a declaration to confirm that you have in place, or will have in place when you practise, appropriate indemnity arrangements.
The aim is to make sure that where a patient suffers harm through the negligent action of a nurse or midwife, the patient will be able to recover any compensation that is due, by ensuring that all nurses and midwives have appropriate indemnity cover.
Professional indemnity insurance is a requirement of registration, so you can’t afford to ignore it.
However, it is likely that you are covered through your employer if you already have a job lined up. All NHS employers and General Practice employers will cover you. If you are joining a smaller employer, it might be wise to check the cover with the HR department, but employers will generally cover you and you should have no need for any other cover.
If you are self-employed you may benefit from the RCN indemnity scheme as part of your membership of the RCN. For more information please go to: rcn.org.uk/indemnity. The RCN covers the cost of claims up to £3 million.
As an RCN member you will also be covered for your voluntary work or any time that you step in to help as a Good Samaritan.
The nursing associate role within England
You may hear of a relatively new nursing role called nursing associate (NA). NAs work across all four fields of nursing: adult, children’s, mental health and learning disability. This role is designed to help bridge the gap between health care assistants and registered nurses. NA is a stand-alone role that will also provide a progression route into graduate level nursing. NAs work with people of all ages and in a variety of settings in health and social care. The role will contribute to the core work of nursing, freeing up registered nurses to focus on more complex clinical care.
The NA role is only available in England and is only recognised, regulated and registered in England by the NMC. All NA education courses are now part of the apprenticeship scheme and are approved by the NMC. There are a small number of Health Education England providers offering the course for fee paying students.
The role follows The Code (NMC, 2018) and needs to revalidate against the Code, as other registrants do. The NAs on entry to the register will have completed a two-year work-based learning programme and achieved a Foundation Degree at an academic institution. They will have achieved proficiencies in a range of clinical skills according to the Standards set by the NMC. These Standards set out what an NA should know and be able to do when they join the NMC register. This will make sure that everyone entering into the profession has the skills they require to care for people safely, with integrity, expertise, respect and compassion, from the moment they step into their first job.
Like nurses and other health professionals, NAs can expand their knowledge and skills with the right training and clinical governance. The intention is for NAs to support, not substitute, registered nurses.
More information can be found about the role on the RCN website at: rcn.org.uk/professional-development/ become-a-nursing-associate
If everything’s gone well, by now you will have applied for and been offered a job in the NHS or with an independent sector employer, and you will have signed a contract with your employer. The contract is enforceable in law.
As an RCN member, rcn.org.uk/get-help/your-contract is your best source of advice for issues relating to employment contracts should you have any queries, but here are some key things you should be made aware of.
Employment contracts set out terms and conditions – usually a range of promises made by the employer covering such matters as holidays, sick pay and working conditions.
From April 2020, all workers (including employees) should be given access to a written statement of employment particulars from day one. These form the basis of your contract of employment. When you sign an employment contract, you are agreeing to all the terms within that contract. It is therefore important that you understand what you’re signing and that if there are any issues that might affect your willingness or ability to agree to the contract, you should have those points clarified before your start date. It is perfectly legitimate for you to negotiate with the employer to try to improve the terms, but of course your prospective employer is entitled to say no to your request.
You may be asked to work a probationary period. These are not defined by law, but may be included as a term of your contract. The contract should make clear how long the probationary period will last and whether it can be extended. Some employers will offer less favourable terms and conditions, and a lower salary during the probationary period. This is allowed providing it’s stated in your contract.
Changes to your contract are generally unlawful unless both parties – you and your employer – agree to them. Generally, changes to your job description should only be made by agreement between you and your employer.
Important issues related to terms and conditions include:
The layout of payslips can vary greatly, but should contain the same basic information:
- name, employer, payroll number
- monthly/weekly pay
- hours worked
- gross pay
- net pay after tax
- tax paid
- National Insurance number and contribution
- pension contribution from employee
- pension contribution from employer
- allowances (for example, London weighting)
- overtime/shift payments, if worked
- net deductions, for example for parking, hospital accommodation or lease car.
It is important that you become familiar with your employer’s payslip, so that you can check that you are being paid correctly.
Do check your hours, pension contributions, tax codes and other payments and deductions, as over-payments made by the employer can legally be reclaimed even if it is the employer’s error.
Do also raise any queries with your payroll department in the first instance, who should be able to talk you through your payslip.
Agency or bank nursing is a way of gaining experience while you look for a permanent job. You may have tried it already – but while some newly registered nurses find it valuable, it’s not for everyone.
Be mindful that many agency and bank recruiters prefer nurses to have at least six months’ post-registration experience and a period of preceptorship completed before taking them on.
Flexibility is the big attraction, with the opportunity to work when you want. There can be a risk that you end up accepting lots of work because you fear that it might dry up at any time. But many agency and bank recruiters can give candidates a realistic picture of demand for work.
It’s certainly a great way to get your foot in the door, for staff to get to know and like you (and vice versa), and to ensure you’re informed about forthcoming permanent opportunities. You can also build up valuable experience and skills to add to your CV.
Some nurses find that the initial novelty and excitement of working in new areas and being able to stay out of any internal politics can give way to feeling left out of the team, and not feeling valued or appreciated. However, many agency and bank workers manage to find regular lines of work in one area and have access to educational opportunities.
The NMC requires third-party feedback as part of the revalidation process, agency and bank staff need to be mindful of keeping a record of positive feedback from patients and peers, and of asking for appraisal and mentorship support if they work in one place long term. It’s also very important to build excellent relationships with colleagues and managers, as you may need to approach them for a clinical reference at a later date.
For further information about employment rights as an agency or bank worker, please visit: rcn.org.uk/agency
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