The Nursing and Midwifery Council has announced a new UK centre for checking the competence of nurses and midwives trained outside the European Union and European Economic Area.
The introduction of the new centre at Oxford Brookes University next month will increase capacity, leading to shorter waiting times, and improve flexibility with the choice of location, said the NMC.
“This new test centre will help to ensure nurses and midwives… join our register in a timely way”
In order to join the NMC’s register, nurses and midwives trained outside the EU and EEA must successfully take a two-part test of competence.
The first part is computer-based and can be taken anywhere in the world. If successful, applicants must then take the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) in the UK.
The fact that the OSCE needs to be taken in the UK has resulted in situations where some trusts have had to use newly-recruited overseas nurses in healthcare assistant roles while they wait for their test slot.
The existing OSCE centre opened at University of Northampton in 2014 and increased its capacity in 2016 to meet demand. It will continue to offer the OSCE.
The NMC said the new test centre at Oxford Brookes University will offer the test of competence across two sites in Oxford and Swindon, and will be open for booking from December 2016.
A third UK test centre is also likely to be introduced early in 2017, said the regulator.
The test of competence is based on current UK pre-registration standards of education. Candidates must demonstrate that they meet those requirements and other eligibility criteria necessary for entry to the register.
Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “We recognise the invaluable contribution nurses and midwives trained outside the EU and EEA make and the vital role they play in the UK’s health and care workforce.
“This new test centre will help to ensure that those nurses and midwives with the right skills and knowledge to join our register can do so in a timely way,” she added.