NMC announce changes to language competency requirements

Nurses talking

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has announced a number of changes to their English language requirements for nurses and midwives trained outside the UK.

The changes, which come into force from 1 November 2017, allow for nurses and midwives to provide alternative forms of evidence of their language competence, in addition to the International English Language test system (IELTS).

While this provides an alternative way for nurses and midwives to demonstrate their English language capability, applicants will still be required to meet the NMC’s existing English language standards. The NMC have confirmed a complete review of their language testing and the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) processes as a longer-term piece of work.

The changes recognise:

1. A language test 

In addition to IELTS level 7, the NMC will now accept the Occupational English Test (OET), level B. Other tests may be added to this list in due course, upon verification that the test provider can meet the safety standards set by the NMC.

2. Those taught and examined in English 

Nurses who can demonstrate completion of a pre-registration nursing or midwifery programme that has been taught and examined in English can enter the NMC register. 

The course must have also been composed of at least 50 per cent clinical interaction. The majority of this will include clinical interaction with patients, service users, their families and other healthcare professionals, which must have taken place in English. 

3. Those who have registered and practised for a minimum of one year in a country where an English language is the first and native language 

A list of native English-speaking countries should be available from the Home Office.

Further information about the new language competency requirements and guidance can be found on the NMC website.

We have also updated our language competency good practice guidelines for employers. Further details can be found on the NHS Employers website.

We will continue to engage with NMC colleagues to help provide an objective review of the overall testing regime with the key aim of ensuring that any changes being considered both properly assure the NMC as to the safety of the public and meet the needs of the NHS.

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