From 18 January, all nurses from the EU will be required to prove they have a competent grasp of English in order to join the NMC register.
The NMC has said that the changes to the rules are not imposing a blanket language test on European trained applicants. However, if EU nurses are unable to provide sufficient evidence of language skills, they will be required to undertake a language assessment in order to join the NMC register. Evidence that will allow nurses to skip the test includes training or working in an English-speaking country.
‘We have pressed for language controls for years so that nurses and midwives can practice safely and effectively, in order to further protect the public,’ said Jackie Smith, the NMC’s chief executive. ‘The code is clear that you must be able to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues.’
The change in legislation will also allow the NMC to investigate nurses’ or midwives’ fitness to practice if concerns over their ability to communicate effectively in English are raised.
'Public safety must be the driving force behind this and as such, these proposals make a lot of sense,’ said Louise Silverton, director of midwifery at the RCM. ‘They will help to ensure that midwives who work in the UK have the level of competence in reading, writing and speaking English needed to ensure good communication with the people they care for.'