Nurses and midwives who have trained outside the European Union are from today allowed to apply to come and work in the UK immediately after qualifying.
The move follows procedural changes by the nurse and midwife regulatory body the Nursing and Midwifery Council and brings applicants from outside the EU into line with their EU counterparts.
“This change will remove an unnecessary barrier, making it as simple and straightforward as possible”
Previously, nurses and midwives from outside the EU were required to have worked for at least 12 months after qualifying before being able to apply to work in the UK.
Under the new rules, all those applying to work in the UK from outside the EU will still be required to pass tests to show they are safe to work and also show they can communicate effectively in English.
Overseas nurses wishing to practice in the UK must demonstrate their language skills by passing either the International English Language Testing System exam or the Occupational English Test.
The NMC noted that it had introduced improved guidance and supporting materials for applicants so that they could be as well prepared as possible to show that they meet its requirements.
These changes are part of a much wider ongoing review looking how the regulator can improve the experience for people applying to work in the UK from overseas, noted the NMC.
The regulator highlighted that more than 65,000 nurses and midwives from outside the EU “deliver first class care to millions of people across the UK every year”.
“They are a vital part of our health and care workforce,” said Emma Broadbent, director of registration and revalidation at the NMC.
“This change will remove an unnecessary barrier, making it as simple and straightforward as possible for highly skilled nursing and midwifery staff to join the workforce,” she said.
There has been a recent spike in the number of overseas nurses and midwives from outside of the European Union joining the UK nursing register, according to figures from the NMC.
Latest data presented during an NMC council meeting in July showed an 86% increase in the number of nurses and midwives joining the register from outside the EU in the past three months.
The average number joining each month increased to 440 between April and June 2018 compared with an average of 237 per month in the previous nine.
At the end of June 2018 there were 69,425 nurses and midwives on the register from outside the EU compared with 67,534 in July 2017 – an increase of nearly 2,000.
In contrast, other NMC figures have shown that the number of new nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK has dropped by 87%, from 6,382 in 2016-17 to 805 in 2017-18.