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COVID-19: trust hosts delayed English tests for overseas nurses

Occupational English Test (OET) organisation allows exam needed for Nursing and Midwifery Council registration to be held at trust’s premises after test centre is unable to hold them

Picture of people writing in an exam room.
Picture: iStock

An NHS trust arranged for its overseas nurses to take their English exams on its premises after they were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overseas nurses recruited by Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust sat the Occupational English Test (OET), a requirement for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), on 13 June.

The trust decided to host the exams after an OET test centre was unable to hold them in March.

External company brought in to act as exam assessors

Emergency nurse Miguel Dias, one of 16 nurses who took the test, said: ‘After three months of waiting for my exam, I was very happy to finally sit it.

‘I’m grateful to the trust for creating the conditions to accommodate the exam.’

The trust’s international recruitment team worked with OET, which runs international English-language tests for the healthcare sector, to enable the tests to take place at Wycombe Hospital’s education centre, and an external company was brought in to act as assessors.

Social distancing was enforced, hand sanitisers were available, and all candidates and assessors had to wear face masks.

Trust plans to continue offering on-site OET exam beyond the pandemic

Jeanette Tebbutt, the trust’s deputy chief nurse workforce transformation, said: ‘An on-site exam venue is more practical for our overseas nurses, which is why we will continue to offer this beyond the pandemic.

'The nurses were ready to go, eager to get to work and excited to fully join the team here in Buckinghamshire.’

The OET comprises listening, reading, writing and speaking tests, all of which were completed. The trust is preparing to host an OET exam for another 16 nurses on 27 June.

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