The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) new language testing requirements for those trained outside the UK have now come into force. There new rules were implemented yesterday on the 1st November.
The changes provide alternative options for nurses and midwives looking to work in the UK to demonstrate their English language capabilities.
The NMC will now accept the Occupational English Test (OET) as well as the longstanding International English Language Test System (IELTS).
According to the NMC: ‘While this provides an alternative way for nurses and midwives to demonstrate their English language capability, applicants will still need to meet our existing English language standards.’
Some hospital Trusts have welcomed the news, hoping that it will enable more foreign workers to become eligible to work in the NHS. Some have criticised the old IELTS test, arguing that the tests were too difficult and prevented competent workers from joining the health service.
The IELTS exams are assessed on a scale of zero to nine, with a grade of 7 required in order to pass. They consist of exercises in writing, speaking and listening. Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive of Borrow Hospital Trust, and an outspoken critic of the IELTS, claimed that she could have recruited 40 capable nurses to work across her wards had the NMC relaxed the pass mark by half a point.
David Wilkinson, from the Trust of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, said: ‘[we] welcome the changes announced earlier this week by the Nursing and Midwifery Council as it currently takes 12-15 months to get a new overseas recruit onto our wards.’
Nurses and midwives who have trained outside the EU/EEA will also experience changes to their requirements. They will now be able to demonstrate their English language competency by providing proof that they have either undergone a pre-registration nursing of midwifery qualification taught in English or have been registered and practices in an English speaking country for more than one year.
‘These changes will bring the options available for those trained outside the EU/EEA more closely in line with those from the EU/EEA,’ says the NMC.