International recruitment best practice language testing webinar


08 / 10 / 2019

Our international recruitment best practice webinar, held on the 25 September, provided delegates with information on how trusts are supporting overseas nurses to meet English language requirements.

The webinar featured Patricia Spruce and Mark Appleby from Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Althea D'oyley Bowen from King's Commercial Services. It focused on:

  • examples of how overseas candidates can be supported with language testing
  • comparisons between the IELTS and OET test
  • how trusts can work collaboratively
  • challenges, successes and learning.

If you missed it or would like to revisit what was discussed, you can catch up on the full webinar including questions and answers below. You can also download the slides.

For any further questions in relation to language testing or the webinar, please get in touch by emailing


Questions and answers

Below are answers to questions asked during the webinar, which we did not have time to answer during the session. YDH denotes an answer from Yeovil District Hospital and KCS is King's Commercial Services.

Could you explain where King's got the costs for IELTS/OET from? My understanding is the costs vary from India to Philippines.

KCS: The costs do vary depending on the country in which they are taken and the exchange rate. The costs shared on the webinar were guidelines for those based in the UK.

Is there a reason King’s aren’t encouraging nurses to use the many IELTS review centres available at a cost of approx. £100 per year to study for IELTS?

KCS: Where possible, we encourage nurses to use the IELTS review centres but if nurses are based in more rural areas or areas where the test centres are far or work shifts are challenging, they are encouraged to use approved support from wherever possible such as our in-country agents, trainers and teachers, and online support as well.

Yeovil and Kings, Do you do any International recruitment for Doctors? can you share some tips?

YDH: we undertake international doctor recruitment but at the moment only for YDH (as we still have vacancies). We advertise and market on the back of our nurse recruitment and offer informal interviews at the point we receive CVs. We will offer support and guidance on the English tests and the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB). This is on a case by case basis, depending on the level of the doctor and the speciality, so this is a very tailored recruitment process.

KCS: We provide medical recruitment services, similar to our nursing recruitment with just a slightly different model and approach. As with YDH, it depends on the specialty (i.e. ER doctors and consultants are always challenging to recruit for). My colleague for head of medical recruitment would be happy to provide further information, so get in touch with NHS Employers if you have further queries and this can be passed on. We also assist with their English testing and PLAB. We also support trusts with training programs i.e. Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) and the Medical Training Initiative (MTI) scheme.

Do you use the IELTS certificate validity check?

YDH: Yes, we hold a registration to check IELTS and OET.

With the changes to UKVI over study visas would you be advising we could look to Universities that offer top up degrees for international nurses, and some that offer NMC OSCE preparation as part of the top up degrees?

YDH: Good question. I am assuming this is the new rule that from 2020 students finishing their studies are allowed to stay for 2 years to look for work (currently it is only a matter of months). Trusts are able to recruit international nurses who are topping up their degrees in the UK as they are able to swap from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 visa. However, I would advise they must meet the NMC requirements in English before you do this. Even though they are studying in the UK, the NMC does not accept the top up degree as evidence of English competence. They must pass the OET or IELTS.

There are companies (mainly in the Philippines) who offer nurses the chance to study (and work in the UK) as part of the Tier 4 student visa route; candidates think they can work as a nurse without going through the necessary English Tests / NMC process. The process isn’t any different to others applying outside the UK. What I advise is that while they are here studying, they undertake their OET at the same time as they have a much better chance to pass. At that point we can then support them with their CBT and NMC registration. At the end of the course you can then employ them on the Tier 2; remember they must finish their studies before you swap their visa.

I have not come across universities that offer OSCE preparation as part of the top up degree. (It’s not something we have looked at because we offer OSCE training with successful results and our training is only for 4 days.

How many staff do you have at your organisations/how many international staff?

YDH: approx. 2,200 employees and approx. 15% made up of international staff.

Do you offer accommodation or a specific support package for people coming over?

YDH: the trusts we work with all offer similar packages (depending on their location and accommodation costs):

  • Refund of English test (1 test)
  • NMC application funded up front
  • CBT paid for up front
  • VISA and IHS funded upfront
  • Flight to the UK
  • Travel from UK airport to the Trust arranged and paid for
  • Relocation payment: £1000 or 3 months accommodation funded (this varies)
  • OSCE training free
  • OSCE – (1 test funded)

Are you successfully recruiting A&E nurses from overseas?

YDH: We have recruited a lot of ED nurses. We actually struggle to place them as a lot of our trusts have recruited their numbers. UAE has been a particularly successful country for us to recruit skilled ED nurses.
KCS: We have also recruited many ED nurses.

Can we have contact details for Yeovil? We are looking to establish OSCE training service in North West.

If you contact NHS Employers ( we can happily share details with you for colleagues at Yeovil.

Has this process been used for recruiting GPs?

YDH/KCS: Not by us (not yet)!

Would Yeovil be willing to share their nursing registration programme?

NHS Employers have been provided a copy of this, please get in touch if you’d like to see it.


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