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Competency test centre set to greet thousands of overseas nurses

University facility will enable nurses to do their OSCE before they can register in the UK

Candidates to take Observed Structured Clinical Examination at University of Northumbria NMC Competence Test Centre before they can register in the UK

A new national test centre is poised to open its doors to thousands of overseas nurses and others hoping to join the UK nursing register.

Up to 7,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates are expected to visit the University of Northumbria Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) Competence Test Centre each year to take exams to enable them to work in UK health and care

Candidates to take Observed Structured Clinical Examination at University of Northumbria NMC Competence Test Centre before they can register in the UK

Overseas nurses will undertake Observed Structured Clinical Examination at University of Northumbria NMC Competence Test Centre before they can register in the UK
The Observed Structured Clinical Examination uses actors or simulation models to assess candidates’ ability to care for patients. Picture: Alamy

A new national test centre is poised to open its doors to thousands of overseas nurses and others hoping to join the UK nursing register.

Up to 7,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates are expected to visit the University of Northumbria Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) Competence Test Centre each year to take exams to enable them to work in UK health and care settings.

The facility will allow candidates to do their Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) – the practical part of the competency test all overseas-trained nurses, or those returning to practice from a career break, must take before they can register.

Centre to welcome first test candidates from end of March

The OSCE is a face-to-face exam that uses actors or simulation models to assess candidates’ ability to care for and communicate with patients. An updated version of the NMC Test of Competence was introduced in August 2021.

The centre is based at the university’s Coach Lane campus in Newcastle, which is also home to its nursing and midwifery department. It is open for bookings and will welcome its first test candidates from the end of this month.

It is one of two test centres due to be launched this year with another based at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust scheduled to open in April, bringing the total number of national test centres to five.

The University of Northumbria worked with partners, including local health trusts and the city council to establish the centre.

Nurse and head of centre Norman Franklin said it had been a ‘mammoth task’ to get it up and running.

‘We are thrilled to have passed the NMC’s quality assurance assessments and we are very much looking forward to officially open our doors to the first candidates,’ he said.

Help thousands of health professionals with right skills to join NMC register

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said the centre would give nurses more choice over where to take their test.

‘It will help thousands more professionals with the right skills and knowledge to join our register quickly and safely, for the benefit of people using health and care services,’ she said.

The move comes amid efforts to ramp up international recruitment to fill widespread nursing vacancies and achieve the government’s goal of recruiting 50,000 extra nurses.


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