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NMC announces easier English language tests for foreign nurses

Wednesday 25th October 2017
The UKs Nursing and Midwifery Council has announced changes to its English language testing system for overseas nursing staff. Image: Ivah-balvan via iStock
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    Nurses from overseas who come to work in UK hospitals are required to complete tests designed to demonstrate that they have a good grasp of the English language before they are accepted for a job.

    These tests are of a high standard, as nursing staff need to be able to understand what patients and their loved ones are saying at crucial moments to ensure they can receive the treatment and care they need.

    However, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has revealed these tests are to be made easier moving forward.

    In the future, nursing staff who are from or have trained for more than a year in a country where English is spoken will no longer have to sit these language tests. Meanwhile, nurses that are tested will be presented with a less academic exam that applies their language knowledge in a more practical way than before.

    Speaking to the Telegraph, chief executive of the NMC Jackie Smith explained some of the problems with the existing tests.

    "For some applicants, the current tests appear to be a challenge in some ways - and the challenge is because it doesn't provide the occupational context," she said.

    "Some of the language used in some of the current tests is more academic, some people think."

    The new testing system will apply for overseas nursing staff from November 1st 2017.

    The NMC will accept passes of the Occupational English Test from this date, as well as successfully completed exams taken under the International English Language Test System, as proof of nurses' language ability.

    Brexit has played a key part in the overhaul of the testing system, as the NHS wants to make sure it is able to benefit from the support and expertise of nursing staff from outside the European Union more widely than in the past.

    Written by James Puckle

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