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A sigh of relief for the foreign healthcare workers aspiring to work in the UK NHS…

Changes in the English language requirement:

It is a great relief for the international health care professionals who have been dreaming to work in the UK NHS. On the 21st September NMC officially published their plan to consider an important language proposal, that would be beneficial for the foreign health care professionals. The council will consider important changes to existing English language requirements during its next meeting on the 28th September and have confirmed to focus on two key changes to the language requirements. First, will be focused on the approach to testing. Second, will be to consider other evidences of English language competence.


The majority of non-UK applicants who wish to join the register take any one of the two English language exams; the OET or IELTS. In the future, testing will continue to be the primary focus of the English language requirements, but also implement certain modifications.

After careful consideration first proposal will be to:

  • Standardize the minimum scores that must be met when merging test results, and increase the period of combining test scores from 6 months to 12 months.

Secondly, a proposal to:

  • Enable employers to provide supporting evidence of English language proficiency.

  • Consider accepting supplementary information from applicants who have:

a) Trained in English in a country where English is not a majority spoken language; or

b) Narrowly missed passing the English language test.

This proposal will provide those who need to retake a test a little more ease and will also give those who already contribute to health and social care in the UK more freedom without compromising the high level of English language proficiency required to offer safe, compassionate, and efficient care.

The Executive Director of Strategy and Insight, at the NMC, Matthew McClelland, said:

“I’m extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation. 34,000 responses’ is an exceptional number and show 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 considerate way. We’ll continue to keep professionals, our stakeholders and partners updated moving forward.”

Further actions:

The implementation of these new updates is subject to the approval of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and is expected to be effective from the January 2023.


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