The UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council has asked its council to accept a public consultation on changing the English language requirements for nurses who are internationally trained to ensure a fair and reliable process. This has been due to recent concerns raised about the current requirements. Also, there has been a rise in the number of successful appeals by international nurses to the NMC’s registration appeals panel.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council of the UK requires that international nurses demonstrate proficiency in the English language by:
- A current achievement of the required score in one of the English language tests it accepts. Applicants may combine two test scores if taken within six months of each other.
- Completion of a pre-registration nurse, midwife, or nursing associate program that was taught and also examined in English, and included clinical interaction in English
- Recent practice for one year in a majority English speaking nation
However, many nurses cannot meet the required score to practice as nurses even though they hold post-graduate qualifications taught in English or have worked in the health sector already. There have also been concerns raised about some countries whose primary language is English but are not recognized among the list of accepted English-speaking countries.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council has thus formed an external advisory group to help identify any potential amendment to the requirements. It has asked its council to accept a public consultation on the proposal which will consist of three specific changes:
- A change in the accepted score including how applicants can combine scores across test sittings and the minimum score required
- Whether it can accept evidence of non-registered practice in English supported by an employer reference or other evidence.
- Whether it can accept non-nursing or midwifery post-graduate that are taught and also examined in English
Dr. Agimol Pradeep, liver transplant coordinator at King’s College Hospital, and Dr. Dilla Davis, nursing lecturer at the University of Salford, have been campaigning on behalf of numerous India-trained nurses who have not been able to pass the test despite working as healthcare assistants in the UK.
According to Dr. Davis, she has been receiving emails from nurses from Nigeria, Ghana, and the Philippines, who have lived in the UK for more than 17 years but cannot pass the language test, which she finds very hostile.