...IELTS: Controversial English language testing for nurses
The Nursing and Midwifery Council is to propose slightly easing the requirements for overseas nurses and midwives taking the International English Language Test System (IELTS).
A company offering healthcare-specific English language tests for nurses has seen a “phenomenal” increase in candidates since the exam was recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Language testing of nurses from outside the UK must be “closely monitored” by NHS England to ensure checks are set at an appropriate level while not hindering recruitment, according to a major report on nursing shortfalls by an influential group of MPs.
The introduction of a new language test by the UK nursing regulator last month has been followed by a “spike” in the number of nurses from abroad wanting to take the new exam, suggesting overseas recruitment could be set to improve.
A “significant number” of nurses from abroad have applied to work in the UK in the past two weeks, the nursing regulator has revealed, suggesting recent changes to language testing are improving overseas recruitment.
A further fall in the number of nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK was revealed this month, setting alarm bells ringing among employers, nursing leaders and unions.
Workforce problems are the most significant threat to delivering high quality care in the health service, NHS chief executives have warned, as they called for immediate action to tackle international recruitment concerns, including language testing for European nurses.
Changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s language testing requirements for nurses and midwives trained outside the UK have come into force today.
From next month, the Nursing and Midwifery Council is to expand the range of options that overseas nurses can use to prove their English language credentials are sufficient to join the UK register.
The introduction of an alternative language test to check foreign nurses’ communication skills could occur “within weeks” following an “overwhelmingly positive” response to a consultation on the changes, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has said.