Please visit for information about temporary registration and changes to how we’re operating during this time.


Investigating concerns about language competence

Reference: INV-3

Last Updated 12/10/2018


Back to top

When we investigate concerns about a nurse or midwife’s knowledge of English, we can direct them to take a language assessment.

In such cases we use the outcome of the assessment as our key evidence about the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise.

How do we direct nurses and midwives to take language assessments?

Back to top

We give a direction for them to take a language assessment in writing.
We will request that the test be taken by a specific date and that the nurse or midwife give us the within a timeframe of around 60 days, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, we could extend the time if a nurse or midwife needed a reasonable adjustment to allow them to take the assessment.

Usually we specify that the test should be an assessment provided by IELTS. However, if the nurse or midwife chose to obtain their own assessment provided by OET we would also accept the result.

What happens if the nurse of midwife doesn’t comply?

Back to top

If we direct a nurse or midwife to take a language test, but they don’t do it, or don’t give us the results, we can use this as evidence that they are not fit to practise because they don’t have the necessary knowledge of English.
This is because the Fitness to Practise Committee can draw conclusions from the nurse or midwife’s failure to follow our direction to them to do the test and give us evidence of the result.1

1. Rule 31(6A) of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004

The guidance in our library, needs to be read alongside our NMC Guidance during the Covid-19 emergency period. We have new rules that are in force during the period of  the coronavirus emergency that are relevant to how it applies.

Want to download and print whole sections of this FtP library? Visit the downloads page.