UK NMC To Meet Next Week on New English Evidence for Overseas Nurses

Started by Administrator, Sep 23, 2022, 03:47 AM

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We're asking our Council to approve two key changes to our requirements.

Our Council will consider important changes to our English language requirements at its next meeting on 28 September. These aim to provide a fair and reliable approach to ensuring nursing and midwifery professionals can communicate safely and effectively in English.

Our proposals follow an eight-week consultation that received more than 34,000 responses – a record for any NMC consultation in the last decade. We consulted on two areas. First, our approach to testing. Second, whether we should consider other evidence of English language competence. 

Our proposals
Most people who responded to our consultation agreed with our proposals overall. There was strong agreement that a high level of English language proficiency is critical for effective communication between professionals, and the safety of those they care for.

Currently most people from outside the UK who apply to join our register take one of our two English language tests: IELTS and OET. Testing will remain the main focus of our English language requirements in the future and we are also proposing to make some changes.

After carefully considering the consultation responses, firstly we're proposing to: 

standardise the minimum scores we accept when combining test scores, and extend the period for combining test scores from six to 12 months. 
Some people marginally miss the test score needed to join our register. This proposal will allow a bit more flexibility for people who need to resit a test, while maintaining the high standard of English language proficiency that the public has a right to expect. 

Secondly, we're proposing to:

enable employers to provide supporting evidence of English language proficiency.
We plan 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.
This proposal will allow employers to provide objective information and evidence to us about someone's use of English in a health and social care setting in the UK, including evidence from interactions with people who use services. This proposal will provide greater flexibility for people who are already contributing to health and social care in the UK without affecting the high standard of English language skills needed to deliver safe, kind and effective care.   

We also consulted on whether to accept post-graduate qualifications taught and examined in English as supporting evidence. While there were similar levels of support for this proposal, the consultation raised some issues for us to consider further. Given the variety of post-graduate courses, these issues are more complex to address so we are not making a recommendation on this to Council at this point. We will do more work to decide whether it would be feasible and beneficial, and will return to Council with a recommendation at a later date.

Next steps
Subject to Council approval, we plan to prepare for implementation of the proposed changes from January 2023. 

Matthew McClelland, Executive Director of Strategy and Insight at the NMC, said:
"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. We've considered all responses thoroughly, and believe these proposals will ensure that our requirements are fair and reliable for everyone. 

"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.

"While we'll look to bring in any approved proposals as quickly as possible, we can't rush this process. It's important that we bring in any changes in a kind, careful and considered way. We'll continue to keep professionals, our stakeholders and partners updated moving forward."

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