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NMC sees rise in interest after change to language tests

The Nursing and Midwifery Council says more than 4,000 nurses and midwives have expressed interest in joining its register following an overhaul of English language requirements for overseas nurses.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) says more than 4,000 nurses and midwives have expressed interest in joining its register following an overhaul of English language requirements for overseas nurses.


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The regulator also revealed calls to its call centre have risen by one third, and the number of emails received from people based abroad has quadrupled as nurses seek more information on the changes to the tests.

English test proof

From 1 November, the NMC began accepting the Occupational English Test (OET) as proof a potential registrant can speak, write, read and understand spoken English to a required level.

The OET is a bespoke test for healthcare professionals, including speaking and writing sections designed specifically for nurses and midwives.

Previously it had only accepted the International English Language Testing System, which had been criticised as too academic. Many employers struggling to recruit nurses had called for the pass mark of 7 to be lowered to 6.5.

In addition to accepting the OET, nurses from overseas who have practised for a minimum of one year in a country where English is the first and native language, and where they passed a test to register, can now apply to join the NMC register without sitting further language tests.

'Continue to monitor'

Those trained and examined on pre-registration courses taught in English are now also exempt from further testing.

The figures were revealed at an NMC council meeting on 29 November.

Director of registration and revalidation Emma Broadbent said: ‘These [the 4,000] are not necessarily people actually joining the register, more this is just the initial stage where people express an interest in joining us.

‘We will continue to monitor our international requirements and are developing the next stage of work which we will (report) back to council next year.’

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