NMC amend English language requirement for overseas qualified nurses and midwives

As many nurses and midwives practising in the UK are aware, fitness to practise can be found to be impaired due to:

  • Misconduct
  • Lack of competence
  • A conviction or caution for a criminal offence
  • Physical or mental health
  • A finding by another healthcare regulator or licensing body that fitness to practise is impaired.

In addition, the list above has been added to by the NMC (and other healthcare regulators) to include a nurse or midwife not having the necessary knowledge of English.

Historically, nurses from overseas wishing to practise nursing or midwifery in the UK could take the IELTS (International English Language Test System) to prove their English language competencies.

What in the minimum requirement for IELTS examinations?

In relation to this test, the nurse or midwife must provide a certificate to the NMC when applying for registration that shows scores above the following:

  • at least 7.0 in the listening and reading sections
  • at least 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections; and
  • at least 7.0 overall.

The required mark can be achieved over two test sittings provided that the two sittings were done within 6 months of each other and provided that no one score is below 6.5 and providing that scores in all fields are at least 7 when the results are looked at together.

Is there any other test allowing nurses and midwives to prove language competencies?

Yes, as of 1 November 2017, the rules have changed in that the NMC will now also allow nurses and midwives to prove their English language competencies by taking (and passing) the Occupational English Test (OET).

In relation to this test, the nurse or midwife must provide a certificate to the NMC when applying for registration that shows the following:

  • at least a B grade in listening and reading, and
  • at least a B grade in writing and speaking.

Again, the required mark can be achieved over two test sittings provided that the two sittings were done within 6 months of each other and provided that all grades in both sittings are above Grade C+ and the nurse or midwife achieves Grade B or higher in all four fields when the results of both sittings are looked at together.

The NMC will only accept results from OET tests taken from February 2016 onwards. So, if you took and passed the OET prior to this date, you would have to re-sit it.

In addition to the IELTS and the OET, the NMC will also accept other pieces of documentary evidence to show that the nurse or midwife is competence in English language as follows:

  • A recent pre-registration nursing or midwifery qualification that was taught and examined in English.
  • Registration and practice of at least one year in a country where English is the first and native language, and an English language assessment was required for registration.

In summary, there are now four ways in which a nurse or a midwife can demonstrate that they have sufficient competence in English language to register with the NMC.

The NMC states that allowing nurses and midwives to evidence their English language competencies through the alternative methods outlined makes the options available for nurses and midwives trained outside the EU/EEA wishing to register with the NMC more similar to the evidence that the NMC already accepts for those nurses and midwives trained within the EU/EEA.

At Burton Copeland we have a specialist team of solicitors who are experienced in assisting nurses and midwives in obtaining registration with the NMC and can advise you on the exact requirements and what you will need in order to maximise your chances of obtaining registration which will enable you to practise as a nurse or midwife in the UK.

Alternatively if you are a nurse or midwife facing an investigation into your fitness to practise our specialist team can assist.for further information see here

If you require advice please contact us on 0161 827 9500.