NMC plans to make language tests for overseas nurses easier

The changes have been proposed after many are “just missing out” on the current standard.

Ian Snug
25 November 2018
Student in Exam

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has announced plans to make the England Language test easier for international nurses.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has said it will consider making it easier for international nurses to pass the controversial English Language Test System (IELTS) after many are “just missing out” on the current standard.


Under the proposal, nurses and midwives will be required to continue to achieve a minimum overall level of 7 in the IELTS test, but in future a level 6.5 in writing would be accepted alongside a level 7 in reading, listening and speaking.

The regulator claims the changes would “increase the flexibility” for nurses to come to the UK at a time when the current NHS workforce is under “significant pressure”.

The NMC is proposing these changes as part of their extensive review of international registration. If approved, the proposed changes will take effect in the coming weeks.

‘Under significant pressure’.

Emma Broadbent, Director of Registration and Revalidation at the NMC said: “Nurses and midwives from outside the UK are a vital part of our workforce, without them the health and care system as we know it simply wouldn’t exist.


“We absolutely recognise that good communication is essential to safer, better care and people can be assured that only those who can communicate to a high standard in English will be able to join our register.

“We also recognise the current workforce is under significant pressure, with the number of vacancies are well documented. The change proposed would increase flexibility for highly skilled professionals coming to the UK without compromising safety.”

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said: “Good communication between nurses, midwives and patients is of paramount importance to the safety and care of patients.

“We are really pleased that the NMC continues to carefully progress reforms to the system of language testing, and believe these recommendations balance the need to protect the public with improved access for much needed nursing talent.”


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