Overseas recruits’ English exam: a proper safety check or red tape?

The director of workforce at a trust that struggles to recruit nurses from outside the European Union because many fail to pass the required English test decided to sit the exam himself.

Thomas Simons of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust wanted to understand the challenges faced by health professionals abroad who want to work in the UK.

Prospective UK registrants boost their chances with language training so they can achieve the required score on the IELTS exam

Picture credit: Alamy

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is used by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to ensure nurses trained outside the EU have the language skills necessary to communicate and practise safely in the UK.

Prospective registrants must complete the academic version of the test, scoring at least seven in the listening and reading categories and the same in the writing and oral sections.

A minimum overall score of seven out of nine is required by the regulator for non-EU trained nurses before they even apply to be registered. From January this year EU-trained nurses could


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