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NMC sees increase in nurses and midwives joining the register from outside EU

25 July 2018

Latest figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show an 86 percent increase in the number of nurses and midwives joining the UK workforce from outside the EU in the past three months. The average number joining each month increased to 440 between April and June 2018 compared with an average of 237 per month, in the previous nine months.

At the end of June 2018 there were 69,425 nurses and midwives on the register from outside the EU compared with 67,534 in July 2017 – an increase of nearly 2,000.

The spike in numbers follows recent changes to NMC processes, and the type of evidence that the regulator accepts from nurses and midwives in order to demonstrate their English language capability.

Changes included accepting evidence that a nurse or midwife has been trained and examined in English, or that they have practised in an English speaking country. Other changes included accepting the Occupational English Test (OET) in addition to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) language test.

More changes on the way

The NMC has also outlined how it intends to further improve and accelerate the application process for nurses and midwives trained outside the UK.

Plans include allowing nurses and midwives from outside the EU to apply to join the register immediately after qualifying – rather than having to wait 12 months as is currently the case.

A new online system will also be developed, allowing applicants to prepare and submit their application and track its progress as well as an updated test of competence to reflect the NMC’s new education standards. There will also be improved guidance and support for applicants and employers.

Today’s announcement comes following recent changes to the four part practical assessment for nurses and midwives trained outside the EU which means applicants are now only required to re-sit the parts of the exam they fail.

Emma Broadbent, Director of Registration and Revalidation at the NMC said:

“It’s pleasing to see an increase in nurses and midwives from outside the EU joining the UK workforce over the past few months.
“Indications are that the changes we’ve made are making a difference - but it’s very early days and we must wait to see if this trend continues.
“The fact remains that the UK workforce is under significant pressure and it’s vital that we continue to enable the right people with the right skills and knowledge to join our register in the quickest and safest way possible.
“That’s why the time is right to look at the application processes for overseas nurses and midwives as whole, to ensure that it’s truly fit for the future. Our proposals will make the application process simpler and fairer while continuing to maintain the high standards required to join our register.”


The NMC aims to introduce a revised and updated process for all overseas applicants from early 2019.
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Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries, please contact NMC press office on 020 7681 5409 or email media@nmc-uk.org.
  2.  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.