NMC IELTS News
A DECISION to relax stringent language tests for foreign nurses has been welcomed.
The move by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) could help ease GWH’s nursing shortages, directors said.
All nurses and midwives who want to work in the UK must register with the NMC.
Up until now, foreign nurses were required to pass the International English Language Test System (IELTS) – an exam branded as too broad and not sufficiently nursing-related by many would-be UK health workers.
However, from this week the NMC will accept the more work-based Occupational English Test (OET) as an alternative for nurses keen to work in the UK.
Additionally, foreign nurses will be allowed to register with the NMC without passing the language tests if they can prove that they have taken a nursing qualification taught and examined in English or practiced for at least a year in a country where English is the first and native language.
The move has been welcomed by bosses at Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
At a meeting of the trust’s board of directors, chief nurse Hilary Walker said that the new English language tests were “helpful, in as much as nurses will be examined in the context of healthcare”.
The hospital has six people booked onto the first available OET exam in December.
In an interview with the Adver last week, Lili Baleanu, a staff nurse who travelled to Swindon from Romania, questioned the value of the IELTS.
“It is a very difficult exam, especially because it has nothing in common with nursing. They want you to have an academic level of English. They’ll ask you about anything,” said Lili, who was asked to write an essay about fuels for one test paper.
GWH’s human resources chief welcomed the changes to the qualification requirements – but said that more work was needed to make it easier to recruit from abroad.
HR director Oonagh Fitzgerald told the Adver: “We are pleased the Nursing and Midwifery Council has acted on the concerns that many NHS organisations, including ours, have had for some time about the lengthy process fully qualified nurses from overseas have to go through to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language.
“However, we still feel these changes do not go far enough in making the NHS – one of the most highly regarded employers in the world – accessible to the thousands of healthcare staff across the globe who aspire to bring their talent and skills to the UK.
“While there clearly is a need for a robust testing system, it needs to be one that works for all healthcare staff and until we get to that point, we will continue to call for further changes to be made.”