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NMC launches consultation on strengthened registration process for applicants from overseas

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has launched a consultation on the introduction of a test of competence for overseas applicants to the UK register – those trained outside the EEA (European Economic Area).

The new competence test would sit at the heart of a revised overseas registration process.  It would run alongside a more robust system of face to face ID checks and advanced passport scanning technology to verify identity documents. 

The proposed new tests will replace the overseas nursing programme and the adaptation to midwifery programme. They will enable nurses and midwives who trained overseas (i.e. outside the EEA) to demonstrate that they meet the current NMC standards for competence.

This is proposed as part of a commitment to continuous improvement of registration processes to enhance public protection.

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar Jackie Smith said,

“We are committed to ensuring that our registration processes are as robust and up to date as possible, in the context of international recruitment needs and complex care delivery.

“We look forward to hearing from a range of organisations and individuals on these proposals.”

The competency tests would be undertaken by all overseas applicants to the register once they have proven that they meet the NMC registration and education requirements and would be additional to required language competence in English.

Details being consulted on for the system of competency tests include:

  • Views on the principles underpinning the test.
  • Options for how the test would be structured, including theory and practical elements.

It is also proposed that applicants could be able to sit a theory element in their home countries online in an approved overseas test centre, with the practical element completed in the UK.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

“I support the NMC’s work to strengthen checks on overseas applicants. Overseas nurses and midwives play an important role in UK healthcare but it is right to have the strongest possible checks on their skills, knowledge and aptitude to work in the UK healthcare system.

“I am greatly encouraged by the proactive approach being taken by the new leadership of the NMC to ensuring patient safety by strengthening and modernising their registration requirements for overseas nurses.”

The consultation on the new competency test will run until 31 October 2013.

The proposed competency tests, informed by the consultation, will take at least a year to implement.

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