Revalidation for nurses will not be introduced for at least three years, despite the head of the Nursing and Midwifery Council admitting current arrangements are “not fit for purpose”.

During a grilling from MPs on the House of Commons health select committee, chief executive Jackie Smith said the regulator had concluded there were major problems with the “PREP” system after conducting an audit of 100 registrants earlier this year.

Under the current post registration education and practise standards, nurses and midwives must demonstrate they have completed at least 450 hours of practice and 35 hours of continuing professional development every three years in order to re-register.

The system has been derided by the profession and was criticised by the committee last year after it emerged the NMC only checks 4 per cent of registrants. Former chief executive Dickon Weir-Hughes committed to replacing it with revalidation by 2014.

However, yesterday Ms Smith told the committee it would be introduced by 2015 “at the earliest”. Under plans for medical revalidation, currently being rolled out, doctors will be required to collect feedback from patients and colleagues. The process will be overseen by a doctor in the organisation, usually the medical director, designated a senior responsible officer.

Ms Smith said the medical model would not work for nursing. Instead the NMC would have to develop a “proportionate” model, which did not lead to an increase in the registration fee.

She added: “PREP standards are not fit for purpose… We will have to develop a programme where we say these are high risk areas, for example care homes.”

She said the riskiest areas were outside of the NHS and suggested it would be rolled out in stages.

NMC chair Mark Addison, who also appeared before MPs, said sticking with the current system was not an option.

“The revalidation challenge is to move from something that’s very passive which is ticking boxes to something that has content and substance and does that in a way that’s reasonable,” he said.

Committee chair Stephen Dorrell described the NMC’s commitment to bring the FtP backlog under control by 2014 and introduce revalidation the following year as a “huge undertaking”.