Cost of test to join register for overseas applicants to be cut and a proposed additional route for people to return to work after a career break. The cost of the professional test of competence that overseas nurses, midwives and nursing associates must take to work in the UK will reduce by more than 20 percent from 1 April 2019. The change, which we agreed with the organisations who provide the test, will reduce the cost of the computer-based test from £130 to £90; the full cost of the practical examination from £992 to £794 and the resit cost of the practical examination from £496 to £397. This is one of a number of new proposed measures to make it as straightforward and cost effective as possible for people with the right skills to join its register. Additional new proposals would also see those wanting to re-join the register following a career break being able to choose a test of competence to demonstrate that their skills and knowledge are up to date, rather than undertake a course, which can take between three and 12 months to complete. Furthermore, where people do choose a return to practice course, we will no longer state the minimum length of the course. Educators will now be able to consider the skills and experience of the applicants and design the courses accordingly, increasing flexibility. Our Council will consider the return to practice proposals at its meeting on Wednesday 27 March. Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said: “As today’s report from the Health Foundation, King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust lays bare; these are challenging times for health and social care with high vacancy and turnover rates – including over 40,000 current vacant nursing posts in the NHS in England alone – and around 5,000 nursing vacancies in social care. We know this has a direct and too often detrimental impact on the environment that nurses, midwives and nursing associates work in and the quality and experience of care people receive. By proposing a new way for even more people to get back to work after a break, and reducing the cost of the overseas test, we can enhance the numbers of professionals with the right skills coming onto our register. These are people we know are committed to providing the best and safest care possible. I hope both of these changes show that the NMC is playing its part in positively addressing the nursing and midwifery shortages that exist in health services, adult social care services and within local communities across the UK.” As part of our drive for consistency and quality assurance, we will also be introducing a new test of competence assurance panel. A group of experienced nurses, midwives and other health and care professionals, will use their broad range of expertise to ensure consistency of tests across different test centres. These changes are part of an ongoing review to improve the experience of those wanting to join our register. They will help to ensure that applicants with the right skills and knowledge can join the UK workforce as quickly as possible while ensuring high standards of care.