NMC approves changes to English language requirements: Employers can override OET/IELTS exam results
Keralites Dr Agimol Pradeep and Dr Dilla Davis have been calling for change on behalf of thousands of India-trained nurses who they said are unable to register in the UK LONDON September 29: The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has approved two key changes to its English language requirements. At its latest council meeting yesterday, the regulator received the green light to make changes to its English language requirements, which it said it will prepare for implementation in 2023. "The changes mainly apply to nurses in the UK, who are able to prove they were taught and examined in English (nursing studies) and their UK employer (working at least for a year under the employer) is willing to provide evidence to support their English proficiency (language skill) can proceed with NMC registration, without OET/IELTS. The change applicable to worldwide nurses is clubbing validity for English exam which now has been increased to 12 months from 6 months. A full specification of the changes are awaited", Dr Agimol Pradeep, liver transplant coordinator at King’s College Hospital who has been campaigning for this cause, told this website. “We’re pleased to say that Council has approved the changes to NMC registration requirements for Internationally Educated Nurses. We will now prepare for implementation of the changes from January 2023. We know a lot of people are interested in this update and we’ll share more about what this means in the coming weeks", she said. The changes will empower internationally educated nurses to “fulfil their dream” of working as nurses in the UK. The first change relates to the NMC’s English language tests. The NMC has agreed to standardise the minimum scores it accepts when individuals need to combine two English language test scores. In addition, it proposes to extend the period that applicants can combine their test scores from six to 12 months. The second change will see that the body accepts “supplementary information” from employers as supporting evidence of English language proficiency for applicants who have trained in English in a “non-majority English speaking country”, or who have missed the required score on their English language test. The motion was put forward following an eight-week consultation, which received 34,000 responses, a record for any NMC consultation in the last decade. Matthew McClelland, executive director of strategy and insight at the NMC, said that the proposals “will strike the right balance between maintaining the high standards of English that are necessary for safe, effective and kind practise”, while also “providing additional flexibility” for those who are already contributing to health and social care in the UK. Dr Agimol Pradeep, liver transplant coordinator at King’s College Hospital, and Dr Dilla Davis, nursing lecturer at the University of Salford, were some of the people who have been calling for changes to the NMC’s English language requirements. They have been campaigning for more than two years on behalf of thousands of India-trained nurses who have been unable to pass the language test and achieve registration, despite living and working as healthcare assistants in the UK. Speaking to Nursing Times, the pair were both overjoyed at the fact the council had approved the recommendations. Dr Davis said: “This is one time when words fail to express the exhilaration that we feel.nIt was quite a journey: disheartening, feeling despair, hopelessness, helplessness, days we felt emotionally drained, upset and exhausted. But today changed it all. Today is a great day that will impact hundreds of lives all around, having an impact on not just personal and professional lives, but to our NHS as well.” Dr Agimol Pradeep echoed these feelings: “From the depths of my heart, I render my gratitude and respect to thousands of internationally educated nurses for persevering with us during this journey. I want to thank Matthew McClelland and [the] NMC team for this great news. My first email correspondence to NMC was in March 2020, raising this concern and [the] last 30 months was a journey with many ups and downs and tears and joy. You enabled us to find justice to these internationally educated nurses and empowered them to fulfil their dream of working as nurses in the UK.” Update from NMC Council Meeting: The Council is recommended to agree to the changes below to our English language requirements. • Subject to further engagement on the detail, to accept evidence from employers as supporting evidence of the necessary knowledge of English for those who have worked for at least one year within the last two years in non-registered practice in a health and social care setting in the UK and who: trained in English but in a non-majority English speaking country, as evidence of their clinical interaction skills. They will still need to provide evidence that their training and assessment was in English; or missed the required score by 0.5 (IELTS) or half a grade (OET) on one of the four language domains (paragraph 31). • Standardise the minimum test scores when combining scores across two sittings, so the minimum score is: no more than 0.5 below the required score for all language domains for IELTS (minimum score for reading, speaking and listening when test combining = 6.5; minimum score for writing when test combining = 6); or no more than half a grade below the required score for all language domains for OET (minimum score for reading, speaking and listening when test combining = C+; minimum score for writing when test combining = C) (paragraph 40). • To extend the period for combining test scores from six to twelve months. Proposal: Supporting evidence from employers 1 We proposed accepting an employer reference as supporting evidence of English Language proficiency for those who: 1.1 trained in English but in a non-majority English speaking country, as evidence of their clinical interaction skills (known as evidence type 2: qualification). They would still need to provide evidence that their training and assessment was in English; or 1.2 do not achieve the required score by 0.5 (IELTS) or half a grade (OET) on only one of the four language domains (known as evidence type 1: language tests). 1.3 The applicant should be working for the employer for at least 12 months within the last two years in non-registered practice in a health and social care setting in the UK. This mirrors our existing requirement for applicants who have practised overseas (evidence type 3: recent practice). 1.4 The evidence would need to show that the applicant has sufficient English language proficiency across the reading, writing, listening and speaking domains and that the applicant can interact in English with people who use services, their families and other healthcare professionals. 1.5 The referee should be in a leadership position. The reference should be supported by a counter-signatory, also registered with the NMC and in a leadership position in the organisation.