Now is a great time to return to practice.

Our programme will support you and enable you to renew your registration with your professional body and re-enter practice with the competence and confidence. 
We know you already have the skills and experience that can make a big difference to patients, clients, carers and their families – we are keen to get you back.

For more information watch the return to practice webinar.

If your registration has lapsed, you'll either complete an NMC-approved return to practice course which takes between three and 12 months or do a Test of competence.


There are RtP nursing courses across England. The amount of retraining you require depends on how long you have been out of practice. The longer you have been out of practice, the more practice hours you will need to complete.

Test of competence

The test of competence is made up of:

  • a multiple-choice computer based test (CBT)
  • a practical test known as the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

You can apply through The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) where you'll also find materials and reading to help you prepare. There is a cost for taking the test and the NHS will pay this but you may have to pay up front. You can then claim reimbursement once you have registered with the NMC and are in employment.

Active registration

If you have been out of clinical practice but your registration is still active, you can apply for a post and establish if you can be supported by a preceptorship programme. The programme will support you to update your skills and knowledge and make sure you are job ready. 

Health Education England (HHE) South East will pay for the tuition/university fees associated with the programme and will also provide you with a bursary to cover any out-of-pocket expenses (should you not be supported by an employing organisation), such as book costs, travel, and childcare, depending on the route you choose to return. This is currently £1,000.
Funding for tuition fees is paid by HEE South East directly to your chosen university, and the bursary is either paid to the university or to the organisation supporting your placement, who then manages the transfer of the bursary to you. If you are employed in a healthcare role and being released to attend the return to practice course, you do not normally qualify for the bursary.

The programme usually takes between three and nine months to complete, depending on how long you have been away from practice and how quickly you complete your clinical proficiencies and placement hours. The length of time required to complete the programme will be established during an interview and further discussion you have with your university and the placement provider. For many universities it is a set amount of hours and can also be dependable on how long it may take to complete the practice document.

The programme varies for each university, but as a standard, all programmes consist of theoretical study days at the university which can be face-to-face, online, or a mixture of the two (blended learning) and a placement in a clinical setting to carry out practice-based learning. There are separate return to practice programmes for each of the following fields of nursing and midwifery:

  • adult nursing
  • child nursing
  • mental health nursing
  • learning disability nursing
  • specialist community public health nursing (this includes school nursing, health visitors, occupational health nursing, and family health nursing) 
  • midwifery.

There are six universities offering the RtP nursing programme in the south east but not all offer all fields.

University of Brighton (online)

For more information please contact Gloria Whittaker

University of Hertfordshire

For more information please contact Yvette Boamah

University of Greenwich

For more information please contact Graham Boswell or Programme Support

Canterbury Christ Church University

For more information please contact Kate Devis

University of Northampton

For more information please contact Ros Wray

Bournemouth University

For more information please contact Return to Nursing

There are a number of options for return to midwifery in the south east.

University of Greenwich (midwifery)

For more information please contact Kate Pearce

University of Plymouth (online) (midwifery)

For more information please contact Adele Kane
There may be alternative university courses to explore, please discuss this with the south east regional RtP lead or find other courses across the country using the NHS health careers course finder.

Inspiring stories...

Kerrie and Heidi, practice nurses

Paula, community staff nurse

Andrea, community learning disabilities nurse

Which healthcare setting could you return to?

If you are no longer a registered midwife, there are three ways you can return:

  • Readmission
  • A test of competence
  • A return to practice course

Find more information about the three options.

If you are already registered, you can look for vacancies on NHS jobs.

You can read the full requirements on the NMC website.

If you do not meet these requirements, you can re-join the register by completing a test of competence or a return to practice course.

Useful files: Return to midwifery: Attracting midwives back into the NHS


Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust

Lynn Spicer

HCRG Care Group Community

Rebecca Parr

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust

Tracey Shaw


Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust - Lynn Spicer