The proposal is to ensure fair and reliable processes, keep patient safety prior, and find justice for well-deserved nurses.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council-United Kingdom requested its Council to endorse a public consultation on revising English language criteria for overseas nurses to ensure fair and reliable processes and find justice for well-deserved nurses at the Open Council held on Thursday, 26 May 2022, in Northern Ireland.
The Current Standards
The Nursing and Midwifery Council currently accept three types of evidence for the registration purpose:
A valid achievement of the required score in any English language tests accepted by NMC.
IELTS (Academic): 7 for Reading, Speaking and Listening and 6.5 for writing.
Occupational English Test (OET): B for Reading, Speaking and Listening and C+ in Writing
Applicants can meet the requirements by combining two test scores taken within 6 months of each other, providing that no score in any domain falls below IELTS 6.5 or OET C+.
Completion of a pre-registration nurse, midwife or nursing associate programme that was taught and examined in English and included clinical interaction in English.
Recent practice for one year in an English-speaking nation accepted by NMC
Proposed areas for consultation
It is evident from the records that internationally trained professionals are the major contributors to the nursing and midwifery segment in health and social care settings across the United Kingdom. Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, around 23,500 professionals who had trained outside the UK were registered at NMC. After analyzing the feedback and additional evidence, NMC reasoned that more ways could introduce for overseas applicants without compromising the quality of English proficiency. Therefore NMC is doing a public consultation on three specific changes:
The scores we accept for language tests, including how applicants can combine scores across test sittings.
Whether we can accept evidence of non-registered practice in English supported by an employer reference or other evidence.
Whether we can accept non-nursing or midwifery post- graduate qualifications taught and examined in English.
The proposal is to make amendments to the following segments:
1. Approach toward English Language Tests (IELTS/ OET)
According to the reports from the research groups, the current standards of the English Language Tests, which are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Occupational English Test (OET), meet the norms of other regulators similar to UK NMC. However, there is a recommendation from the research team to amend the speaking score to C+ in OET, which is 6.5 in IELTS.
Score Clubbing: The period for score clubbing will remain the same as six months. However, the minimum scores of separate modules for clubbing the scores are under assessment.
2. Considering more evidence of English language competence
NMC is assessing the possibilities of considering more evidence of English language competence for overseas nurses working in the United Kingdom, such as employer references. In this case, the designated person to refer, the number of years of experience, and the position of applicants (e.g.: Band 4) will decide after the consultation. Based on the reports, we presume nurses working in Band 3 and 4 will be considered for this proposal if they are in the role for a minimum of three years.
3. Accepting Post Graduate Applicants
Numerous applicants have done post-graduation in nursing or related subjects in the United Kingdom. During the consultation, NMC will evaluate the prospects to include these candidates as well, as they completed their studies in English under the UK education system.
Kindly note that consultations for segments two and three are for applicants in the United Kingdom.
Currently, NMC receives applications more from international nurses. However, a unified English proficiency standard for internationally trained midwives, nurses, and nursing associates is in consideration.
With the agreement of the Council, a proposal to launch a public consultation for a period of eight weeks starting in June 2022 is being planned. The shortened consultation period has been designed to reflect stakeholder support for an accelerated review. The consultation will be another opportunity to better engage with diverse voices and audiences to understand the equality impacts of the English language requirements. The Chief Executive and Executive Director of Strategy & Insight will approve the consultation document before publication.
The expected deadline to provide a full report on the consultation findings and final recommendations to Council is September 2022. The council will have a detailed discussion on the assessments in October, and the implementation will be done from November 2022 if there are any amendments to the standards.