Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association

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Returning to Practice

Under the PREP Regulations (UKCC Registrar’s Letter 19/1995) that came into practice in 2000, all practitioners returning after a break in service are required to undertake a recognised Return to Practice Programme. A break in service is defined as working less than 100 days or 750 hours by virtue of a registered qualification in the previous 5 years. This requirement stands under the authority of the Nursing and Midwifery Council 2002. Health visitors and other community practitioners need to update their skills and knowledge if they fall within this category. If you have been working as a nurse in another capacity or working abroad, your registration will have remained ‘live’, as health visiting is predicated on nursing. However you will still need some form of re-entry programme to enable you to be accountable for the work you are undertaking. This applies to recordable community specialist qualifications as well. In this case you may work with a Primary Care Organisation (Trust, Board or Group) to organise an updating programme that suits both your individual needs and ensures that the Trust management are satisfied you are competent to undertake the role for which you are held accountable. Return to practice courses are now funded through education confederations. Therefore you should not be asked to pay for these courses. In some areas there is also help for travelling, books and child care costs incurred while undertaking the course. Trusts may offer you honorary contracts when undertaking for practice placements.

In some areas there are relatively few health visitors at any one time who wish to return. Therefore it is unlikely there will be a fixed course. However the educational confederation should be able to identify an educational institution (usually one where health visitor courses are run) which can offer you a planned programme in conjunction with a Trust.

The CPHVA compiles a list of Returner Courses and key contacts. However this list is not exhaustive as new initiatives are being developed all the time. If your area is not covered by this list we suggest you:

  • Contact the educational confederations to see if there are any developments in your area planned.

  • Contact your local Community Trust. Try and talk to a nurse manager or health visiting adviser rather than a personnel person. Explain that you want to return but would like help with a planned programme. If the Trust is less than helpful try another one. Our experience is that some Trusts are better than others at supporting returners in an appropriate and helpful manner.

  • Contact the nearest college that has a health visitor course. Talk to a lecturer in primary care or community nursing rather than an administrator and ask them if they can provide tutorial support.

  • Join the CPHVA! Unemployed members receive the Community Practitioner journal which is a good way of getting up to date. Remember to update your membership when you start work to obtain indemnity insurance.

  • Have confidence in your abilities. All experiences you have had while away from practice will have given you new skills. Many employers recognise the valuable contribution returners offer in terms of experience, stability and enthusiasm. The CPHVA has known of people successfully returning after 23 years and many of our former course participants are in key leadership positions.

What should you be looking for in a returners' programme?

  • Your individual skills and needs are assessed to identify what skills you have, what further learning experiences you need.

  • You are offered a planned programme of support from tutors linked to some academic input (which could be open learning) and to a practice placement.

  • A practice placement that moves from observation and shadowing to a supervised practice model with a named and available mentor.

  • A programme that is designed for people working in the community with a strong health visiting focus.

What you should try and avoid

  • Courses that are primarily Return to Nursing.

  • Bank work which can be very disruptive, "bitty" and does not help consolidate new learning.

  • Any Trust that is not prepared to listen to you or think positively about helping you to return.

This is an exciting time for all people in community and primary health care. The government’s emphasis on public health, prevention and family support has put health visitors in a key position and we are confident that there will be an increase in demand for trained staff. Returners offer great value for money.

The CPHVA will be working at a national level to lobby for accessible and appropriate returners courses across the UK.

If you need further information or advice please contact:

CPHVA Professional Officer (Education)
Tel: 020 7939 7053/7055

Return to Practice Courses/Contacts

Return to Practice Courses are beginning to be developed across the country. The following list is of contacts where courses may be running. Inclusion on this list does not mean that the CPHVA recommends a course. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and it is worth trying local colleges and education consortia.

Department of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Stirling may be found at Click on the relevant link ('Undergraduate', 'Postgraduate' or 'Continuing Education') depending upon the type of course you are looking for:
and , Community Nursing Specialists, Pathway Suffolk College, Ipswich

CPT for HV students and Returning to HV Students, Windsor,Ascot and Maidenhead PCT. - Tel. 01344 873 278

- Specialist PT's for Students HV. Bsc & MA Courses, European Institution of Health Medical Science. Tel. - 01932 229 360

, University of Northampton. Tel. - 01536 4925 60

, Programme Leader, University of Derby
Western Rd. Mickleover. Derby


- Project Development Manager - Easter Cheshire PCT, Winterton Way, Lyme Green, Macclesfield, Cheshire. Tel. 01625 508 300