Change to English language requirements for nurses and midwives gets green light

Proposals to change the requirements for overseas nurses and midwives taking the International English Language Test System (IELTS) were given the go-ahead by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) today.

Following the change nurses and midwives will still be required to achieve a minimum overall level of 7 in the test. However, a level 6.5 in writing will be accepted alongside a level 7 in reading, listening and speaking.

The decision follows widespread engagement with key stakeholders, who told the NMC that, despite being able to communicate to a high level in English, many nurses and midwives taking the IELTS test were just missing out on achieving a level 7.

The moderate and proportionate change is in line with the NMC’s commitment to better, safer care and will ensure that only those nurses and midwives with the right skills, knowledge and command of English are able to work in the UK.

The change will take effect from 5 December 2018. IELTS results under two years old that meet the new requirements will be considered by the regulator.

The change is just one part of an extensive review the regulator is undertaking of its international registration processes.


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