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Record response to consultation on overseas nurses’ English test

NMC survey on whether language tests for overseas nurses should be relaxed received more than 31,000 responses in six weeks, a record number for the regulator

NMC survey on whether language tests for overseas nurses should be relaxed received more than 31,000 responses in six weeks, a record number for the regulator

A consultation on relaxing English language requirements for registered nurses has received a ‘record-breaking’ number of responses.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) launched the language consultation in June to consider changes to English standards needed for nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

Biggest response to any NMC consultation ‘signals enthusiasm’

At an NMC meeting on 27 July, executive director of strategy and insight Matthew McClelland revealed that

NMC survey on whether language tests for overseas nurses should be relaxed received more than 31,000 responses in six weeks, a record number for the regulator

NMC says survey on whether language tests for overseas nurses should be rethought has received more than 31,000 responses in less than six weeks
Picture: iStock

A consultation on relaxing English language requirements for registered nurses has received a ‘record-breaking’ number of responses.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) launched the language consultation in June to consider changes to English standards needed for nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

Biggest response to any NMC consultation ‘signals enthusiasm’

At an NMC meeting on 27 July, executive director of strategy and insight Matthew McClelland revealed that the consultation had already received more than 31,000 responses in less than six weeks – the biggest response to any consultation by the regulator.

He added that the responses ‘signal the enthusiasm’ for changes to be made and the regulator would want to bring these in as soon as possible.

‘From all the engagement we’ve done so far we remain in the position where there is enthusiasm around making change, with some concern about the practicalities of employer references, in particular,’ Mr McClelland said.

Proposed changes due to be presented in September

The consultation, which closes on 12 August, looks at whether changes should be made to the English language tests required for nurses to join the NMC register, which could make it easier for international nurses to register in the UK.

It is also examining whether other evidence of English competency, such as employer references, should be considered as evidence of good language skills.

Following the eight-week consultation, Mr McClelland said the regulator would be ready to present their proposed changes to the full council in September.

Applicants rejected despite living and working in the UK for years

The move follows concerns that qualified overseas-trained nurses are being prevented from practising in the UK – amid widespread nursing shortages – because they cannot pass overly difficult English tests.

Research found some who had struggled to register had lived and worked in the UK for many years, often taking lower paid, non-registered nursing roles.

Applications have been rejected even though nurses’ communication skills were endorsed by managers, with some achieving masters-level qualifications taught and examined in English.


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