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NMC to consider proposed changes to English language tests

Revamp would make it easier for overseas staff to join register and coincides with plan to recruit nurses in India and the Philippines to ease staffing crisis

Revamp would make it easier for overseas staff to join register and coincides with plan to recruit nurses in India and the Philippines to ease staffing crisis

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is set to consider changes to nurses’ English language requirements which will make it easier for overseas nurses to register in the UK.

Earlier this year the NMC held an eight-week consultation on proposed changes to the language requirements, receiving a record-breaking 34,000 responses from nurses and other interested parties.

Proposals feature two key changes to English language requirements

After collating the vast amount of

Revamp would make it easier for overseas staff to join register and coincides with plan to recruit nurses in India and the Philippines to ease staffing crisis

Photo of four young people taking a written test
Picture: iStock

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is set to consider changes to nurses’ English language requirements which will make it easier for overseas nurses to register in the UK.

Earlier this year the NMC held an eight-week consultation on proposed changes to the language requirements, receiving a record-breaking 34,000 responses from nurses and other interested parties.

Proposals feature two key changes to English language requirements

After collating the vast amount of feedback, the NMC will consider whether to approve proposals at the next full meeting on 28 September.

The proposals suggest two key changes to language requirements, including a revamp of minimum scores on English language tests and whether other supportive evidence from employers should be considered when authorising a nurse as competent.

‘I’m extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation – 34,000 responses is an exceptional number and shows just how important it is to people that we get our English language requirements right,’ said NMC executive director of strategy and insight Matthew McClelland.

‘We’ve considered all responses thoroughly and believe these proposals will ensure that our requirements are fair and reliable for everyone.

If passed, the changes would come into effect in January 2023. The consultation also asked whether the regulator should accept postgraduate qualifications taught and examined in English as supporting evidence.

However, the NMC decided not to put this recommendation forward due to the ‘variety and complexity’ of postgraduate courses.

NMC language test proposals

Proposals set out by the NMC are to:

  • Standardise the minimum scores accepted when combining test scores and extending the period for combining test scores from six to 12 months
  • Enable employers to provide supporting evidence of English language proficiency

The NMC is asked to accept supporting evidence where an applicant has:

  • Trained in English in a country where English is not a majority spoken language
  • Or narrowly missed passing the English language test

DHSC plans to recruit nurses in India and the Philippines to tackle staffing crisis

The proposals come as the Department and Health and Social Care plans to send NHS managers to India and the Philippines to recruit nurses in a bid to tackle worsening staff shortages in the UK.

But the NMC said in a statement that the changes would not compromise safe and effective care.

Mr McClelland added: ‘Internationally trained professionals make a vital contribution to safe, effective and kind nursing and midwifery across the UK.

‘It is essential for public safety that nursing and midwifery professionals have effective English language skills and can communicate safely with each other and those they care for.’


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