Skills for Care

If you were a registered nurse but have had a break, there are three ways that you can return to practice. These are readmission, a return to practice course and test of Competence (ToC). 

Explore how you can return to nursing on the Health Careers website. Although this is hosted by the NHS, the information is relevant for anyone who’d like to work in social care.  



If your registration has lapsed within the past five years, then you can directly apply for readmission with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). You will need to demonstrate that you’ve completed the required CPD and clinical practice hours.

To return to practice via the readmission route you must have completed 450 hours if your registration has lapsed within three years or 750 hours if your registration has lapsed for five years. You’ll need to complete the process before you can practise as a nurse again, which can take up to six weeks or more.

Visit the NMC website to find out how to do this and to submit your application


Test of Competence (ToC) route.

Return to practice through the test of competence route which means completing two tests to demonstrate your competence. Find out more about the tests on the NMC website including how to register with NMC online and book the tests.



This can be a self-directed route for return to practice through the NMC website, or you can apply for a Test of Competence preparation programme. Considering the setting in which you wish to return may influence this as support may be given by individual organisations.

For further information and support if need email and HEE will put you in contact with your regional return to practice lead.


Return to practice course

A return to practice course will refresh your skills, leaving you ready to return to nursing with confidence. It involves a combination of classroom and placement-based learning, so you can get stuck in right from the start. You’ll also be assigned a personal mentor to support you through your studies.  

Visit the Health Careers for more information on funding and return to practice website

Use the course finder on the Health Careers website to look for return to nursing programmes and trusts that provide placements in your area. 


Depending on how long you’ve been out of practice, the course can take between three and 12 months to complete.

Financial support

You will need to be supported by an employer to gain access to the full funding. 

  • NHS Health Education England (HEE) will pay for your course and placement fees.
  • £1,000 will be provided for childcare, travel and book costs. 


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

See the Royal College of Nursing resources for nurses who are interested in returning to nursing. It illustrates some of the different routes and settings where you might work after returning.