Return to the Career you love with the University Hospitals of Leicester.

The national return-to-practice scheme for nurses provides experienced nurses and midwives with training and a route back into the NHS.

Return to the career you love with the University Hospitals of Leicester

‘Once a nurse or midwife, always a nurse or midwife’ is the latest phase of the ‘We are the NHS campaign’. It aims to encourage more nurses and midwives, to return to practice. So:

  • Is midwifery or nursing still in your heart?
  • Inspired by the idea of returning to a career you love?
  • Still committed to care and compassion?
  • Do you want to make a difference to the lives of people within your community?

If you answer YES to the above questions then Returning to Nursing or Midwifery with University Hospitals of Leicester could not be easier:

Returning healthcare professionals have a key role to play in ensuring patients and service users have access to experienced and well-trained care staff equipped with the right skills.

Three ways to return to the NMC register with University Hospitals of Leicester

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

  • Readmission using existing entry NMC criteria online
  • A return to practice course through an Approved Education Institution (AEI)
  • Test of Competence (ToC)


You might be able to re-register with the NMC without doing a course or a test. You’ll need:

  • 450 registered practice hours over the last three years or 750 hours over the last five, including any practice hours gained on the COVID-19 temporary register
  • 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) in the last three years
  • To provide three character references
  • You can apply directly through the NMC website or if you want to use hours worked through the COVID-19 temporary register, you’ll need to email the NMC to request a paper copy of the readmission pack.

Return to Practice Course through an Approved Education Institution (AEI)

This is completed at an Approved University who run the Return to Practice course. Find out more on the Health Careers website.

The course will be part theory but mostly working in clinical practice. Depending on how long you have been out of practice, the course can take between 4 – 12 months to complete. In UHL we ask you to attend as a minimum, 23hrs/week to enable good assessment of your knowledge & skills to be able to return to Nursing or Midwifery with confidence. There is a stipend for you of up to £1000 to support costs.

Test of Competence

The Test of Competence provides a quicker way to return to practice compared to the established routes. It is made up of two parts:

  • Part One: A multiple-choice computer based test (CBT).
  • Part Two: A practical test known as the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)


Part One:  Individuals can arrange themselves to sit the Part one of the Test of Competence for which they will be required to pay a fee, this fee can then be claimed back from Health Education England once the individual has returned to the register and is in NHS employment. Individuals can apply to sit the Test of Competence through the NMC website, where they will also find lots of preparation materials and essential reading to help with revision for the test.

Part two is a practical exam known as the OSCE. In this part you’ll be tested on your clinical and communication skills through Assessment, Planning & Implementation & Evidence (APIE) of a patient, 4 skills out of a potential 22 as well as written work around professional values and evidence-based practice.

UHL are able to help those wanting to return to Nursing or Midwifery through this route with a 3-week programme of face to face preparation to help practice for the OSCE test as well as booking the OSCE through a NMC approved test centre.

Currently this is free to you as long as you can give us the time for preparation. The Trust will be paid once you have returned to the register and in NHS employment.

Back to the Floor Pathway for those with an active NMC PIN

UHL are happy to support those Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives working in non-clinical areas to get back into clinical practice. This will be an individualised pathway to support your needs, with e-learning for health modules to get up to speed and support with your clinical experience and potential new clinical role.

Those who would like to know more, or have further questions, drop us an email.

Nursing Return to Practice Experience – Lisa Pidgeon

“I left nursing in 1998 and my Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) PIN had lapsed in 2005. It was always in the back of my mind to return to nursing, but I just didn’t have the capacity to do this until I was confident that my children were set on the path to a stable future.

At the start of the pandemic, my eldest at University and my youngest becoming an independent teenager, my thoughts about returning to nursing returned, especially after seeing all of the media coverage of the demands being place on NHS staff. However, I was approached and encouraged to apply for funding (which was successful) to deliver arts for health work online for people at risk of social isolation and mental health decline resulting from the restrictions placed by the pandemic. I was proud of the work I did during this time reaching so many people and helping them though this unprecedented period. By the end of the pandemic, around about Feb 2022, though my thoughts drifted back towards the possibility of returning to nursing. 

I did some research about the best route for me to return. I discovered there were different pathways and I opted for a Return to Practice (RTP) taught course at Northampton University. The course, which I started in May 2022 after an application process, was 16 weeks long and involved a mixture of attending lectures and completing e-learning modules. Alongside this, I needed to complete a minimum of 150 hours placement on a local hospital ward, so that I could be assessed for competency. I was allocated to Ward 29 at Glenfield Hospital, very handy for me as I live just over 3 miles away. Also, as part of the RTP course we had to complete 3 reflective practice assignments. It had been a while since I had written an academic piece, and I had trepidation as I am dyslexic. However, the support given by Northampton University was excellent and I was soon taking it in my stride. 

Whilst on placement I was advised, by one of the matrons responsible for recruitment, to put in an application for a job even though I had not yet had my NMC PIN activated. The deadline was short, I had just 24hrs to get the application in, another challenge as I had not applied for a nursing post for many years. But I did it and was offered an interview a week later, and subsequently offered a Staff Nurse position, including a 12-month preceptorship period. A few weeks after my offer I was sent a list of available places to choose from and I was thrilled to be offered one of my first choices CCU at Glenfield Hospital. 

I started on CCU on 5 December 2022, just 7 months after starting the RTP course. 

It was quite a surreal moment putting that uniform back on. I feel that I have made a massive personal achievement and am proud that I have been able to jump numerous hurdles and am now settling into role on CCU Glenfield. I feel I am at the beginning again with the excitement and trepidation of a new start. But I am optimistic and see my development and learning as an ongoing process, focussing on being the best nurse that I can be.”