In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to support the National Health Service and social care providers, the Government enabled some healthcare professional regulators to establish temporary emergency registers. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) maintain emergency registers using powers conferred to them under the Coronavirus Act (CVA) 2020; the General Medical Council (GMC) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) maintain emergency registers using existing powers. The circumstances to justify the continuation of these emergency registers are reducing as the impact of the pandemic reduces. I am today announcing our intention that the emergency registers will close on 30 September 2022. This will provide those healthcare professionals who are practising on the basis of emergency registration six months in which to take up full registration if they so wish. Prior to the closure of the emergency registers the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will notify the regulators that the emergency conditions no longer apply, and the registers will close.
The NMC and the HCPC currently maintain emergency registers using powers conferred to them under the Coronavirus Act (CVA) 2020. Under section 89 of the CVA, the Act will automatically expire two years after coming into force. This means that, following expiry, the NMC and HCPC will no longer be able to add new registrants to their emergency registers, but those already registered will remain so until the register is subsequently closed. The GMC and the GPhC currently maintain emergency registers using powers they held prior to the pandemic.
The powers to set up emergency registers, both under the CVA s.2 and in the GMC and GPhC legislation, can only be exercised where the Secretary of State declares a state of emergency to exist.
To manage the closure of the emergency registers and mitigate any impact on the NHS workforce we are providing regulators, registrants and employers with six months’ notice of the closure of the registers, in order to facilitate transfers between emergency and permanent registers. At the end of this notice period the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will notify the regulators that the circumstance required for emergency registration no longer apply. Once this notification is the emergency registers will close and those professionals on the emergency register will be unable to continue to practice.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords