Statement on proposed changes to readmission and English language requirements

Published on 20 November 2019

Read our statement

Released today (Wednesday 20 November) for approval by the NMC governing council on Wednesday 27 November, are a number of proposed changes to our readmission process and English language requirements.

These proposed evidence-based changes will help to streamline the process both for those wanting to return to practice and for those seeking to join our register for the first time.

Changes to English language requirements

One of the changes we’re asking Council to approve is to our English language requirements. We’re proposing to remove the five year limit on using nursing and midwifery qualifications taught in English, as evidence of a person’s English language skills.

We’re also requesting that Council amend the required score for the written section of the Occupational English Test (OET) so that it aligns with the change we made at the end of 2018 to the score of the written section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).2

Changes to readmission

We’re also recommending changes that will make it more straightforward for those who have left our register to re-join. If approved, these changes will mean people who have completed their training in the past five years, but who lapsed their registration, will be able to use their qualification as evidence of clinical competence for both admission and readmission to the register.

Emma Broadbent, Director for Registration and Revalidation for the NMC, said:

“These common sense changes are in line with the NMC’s commitment to better, safer care and will continue to ensure that only those nurses, midwives and nursing associates with the right skills, knowledge and command of English are able to join and re-join our register.”

These changes will go to the NMC Council for approval on 27 November 2019.

Background information

  1. More information on the proposed changes can be found in the Council papers.
  2. Following an extensive evidence gathering and analysis exercise with OET, we have agreed that the OET writing domain score requirement will change from a B (350-440) to a C+ (300-340). This will bring it in line with our requirement for IELTS test takers, which is an overall score of 7, but with a minimum 6.5 in the writing domain as of this year.
  3. In April this year we commissioned Professor Monika Schmid, Head of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex, to summarise the academic evidence on whether English language competence deteriorates over time. Her research indicated that once English speakers reach a critical level of language competence, for example degree level, their language skills stabilise. We are therefore requesting to remove the five year limit on pre-registration nursing and/or midwifery qualifications taught and examined in English, as evidence of English language competence.

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