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NMC asks for views on overseas nurse testing plan

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is seeking views on plans to strengthen the process of checks for overseas applicants to the UK register.

The NMC has proposed introducing a competency test for overseas applicants – defined as those trained outside the European Economic Area – to replace the overseas nursing programme and the adaptation to midwifery programme.

The new test would run alongside a more robust system of face-to-face ID checks and advanced passport scanning technology to verify identity documents. 

The competency tests would be undertaken by all overseas applicants to the register once they have proven they meet the NMC registration and education requirements and would be additional to required language competence in English.

A consultation on the new competency test will run until 31 October, with the new model of checks taking at least a year to implement after that.

Details being consulted on include the principles underpinning the test and options for how it would be structured – for example, applicants could sit a theory element in their home countries online in an approved test centre, with the practical element completed in the UK.

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar Jackie Smith said: “We look forward to hearing from a range of organisations and individuals on these proposals.”

The proposed changes follow concern earlier this year that some overseas nurses could be fraudulently registered, which prompted the NMC to temporarily suspend new applications.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “I support the NMC’s work to strengthen checks on overseas applicants. Overseas nurses and midwives play an important role in UK healthcare but it is right to have the strongest possible checks on their skills, knowledge and aptitude to work in the UK healthcare system.”

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Readers' comments (10)

  • Nurses from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA should not be subject to this process. They all speak English as a first language and their professional skills/ knowledge is at least equal to a UK educated nurse.

    Applicants from these countries are extremely unlikely to indulge in fraud and their profession/education qualifications are easily confirmed.

    Better to concentrate on those Countries where fraud, misrepresentation, and the "purchase" of "qualification(s) is widespread.

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  • "Better to concentrate on those Countries where fraud, misrepresentation, and the "purchase" of "qualification(s) is widespread."

    which countries might these be?
    it might be difficult to discriminate against those from some countries and not others. what about those from the EU for example?

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  • Wow Jenny that's harsh!

    We uk nurses still have to take exams in the USA and Canada.

    I currently work abroad and my colleagues would be outraged to hear such comments, as I am.

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  • pamela gridley | 9-Sep-2013 4:16 pm

    I agree. such generalisation is outright discrimination which is often sadly witnessed in British health services and especially the NHS who are unable to accept there are others around the world who are as well or more highly qualified or better trained than some in the UK, or just that they have different and very valid experiences which could enrich and benefit the UK health services.

    In business, for example, there is a far more globalisation and open interchange of foreign nationals bringing expertise and new knowledge which they may not have available.

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  • I would be very happy if those trained within the European Economic area also had to prove their competency and also English language to the same level as those outside the EEA

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  • Jenny you are a racist....possibly more through stupidity than malice - but still a racist.

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  • Nigel Jopson | 9-Sep-2013 4:33 pm

    presumably you extend this to all British trained nurses as well.

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  • Anonymous | 10-Sep-2013 9:58 am

    Jenny probably does not exist but is rather a virtual nurse and a perfect model of the profession, evidenced by her perpetual destructive criticisms and put downs of others.

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  • Mock outrage, personal insults and accusations of racism aside, there is a valid point being made about countries where the nursing registration procedures are much less robust than would be deemed acceptable here.

    It would be better if the any measures were applied to ALL overseas nurses who applied to work here (I know the EEA gets away with it, but a level playing field would be fairer). It's no big deal if you are a competent, registered nurse. I certainly had no issue with it when I went to work for some years in the USA. It seemed totally right and sensible that I should be proved to be up to standard of the country where I would be expected to practise competently.

    Do you really want someone who may not be a qualified nurse looking after your nearest and dearest?



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  • The NMC were in the news a few months ago because they admitted that they could not accurately verify the documentation of some immigrant nurses who were now working in the frontline. This organisation's incompetence led to a freeze in overseas applications and they were heavily criticised by MPs for the debacle. There were reports of nurses, whose documentation had not been properly translated into English, working in the UK as registered nurses. They may well have been perfectly qualified and competent, or they could have purchased their documentation online. And yes, it does happen. How do we know which? The NMC didn't.

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