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NMC to amend English language requirements for applicants trained outside the UK

English language consultation report

Language requirements guidance

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has today announced that it is making alternative options available for nurses and midwives, trained outside the UK, to demonstrate their English language capability.

From 1 November 2017, the NMC will accept the Occupational English Test (OET) in addition to the International English Language Test System (IELTS), as proof of a nurse or midwife’s English language competence. While this provides an alternative way for nurses and midwives to demonstrate their English language capability, applicants will still be required to meet the NMC’s existing English language standards. 

Nurses and midwives who have qualified outside EU/EEA will now also be able to demonstrate their English language capability by providing evidence that they have:

  • undertaken a pre-registration nursing or midwifery qualification taught and examined in English.
  • registered and practised for a minimum of one year in a country where English is the first and native language, and a successful pass in an English language test was required for registration.

These alternative forms of evidence will bring the options available for nurses and midwives trained outside the EU/EEA more closely in line with evidence that we accept for those trained in the EU/EEA.

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, Jackie Smith said:

“Nurses and midwives trained outside the UK make up around 15 percent of our register. They are vital to the delivery of health and care services across the UK.

“By accepting alternative forms of evidence we are increasing the options available for nurses and midwives to demonstrate they have the necessary command of English to practise safely and effectively, without compromising patient safety.”

This represents the first stage of the NMC’s review of its English language requirements. It will continue to evaluate other potential types of evidence, develop additional support for applicants and explore the evidence base for the IELTS test.

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Notes for editors

  1. Our consultation report and new guidance can be found here from 00.01am on 18 October.
  2. Since January 2016, all nurses and midwives trained outside the UK wishing to join our register, had to be able to demonstrate they hold the necessary command of English to practice safely and effectively.
  3. The changes will come into force on 1 November 2017.
  4. Read more about the Occupational English Test (OET).
  5. For enquiries relating to registration please contact 020 7333 9333 or international enquiries 020 7333 6600.
  6. For media enquiries, please contact 02076815649 or email media@nmc-uk.org.
  7. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent professional regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK. We exist to protect the public. We do this by maintaining the register of qualified nurses and midwives and setting standards of education, training, conduct and performance. We make sure that nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date through a regular revalidation process. If concerns are raised about the standards of a registered nurse or midwife, we have a duty to investigate and, where necessary, take action to protect the public.