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NHS Hospital Execs Urge UK NMC to Relax English Language Test for Foreign Nurses - News - Nurses Arena Forum

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NHS Hospital Execs Urge UK NMC to Relax English Language Test for Foreign Nurses by Idowu Olabode : July 10, 2017, 09:47:37 PM
Hospital bosses have called for the English language test for foreign nurses to be relaxed after just three of 118 Filipino applicants at one NHS trust passed.

Managers at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands said their chronic staffing shortfall could be solved “overnight” if watchdogs slackened standards, however patient safety campaigners have demanded the existing pass mark remain in place.

The complaint was made as it emerged executives from the trust made two trips to the Philippines last year in an attempt to recruit more staff.

Under Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) rules, all foreign nurses must pass an International English Language Testing System exam, which comprises listening, reading, writing and speaking assessments.

The hospital’s nursing director, Rachel Overfield, said she was “really confident” the 115 nurses who had failed the language test would be capable of working in the NHS.

However, she conceded that these nurses had not yet passed a mandatory practical examination, also required by the NMC for staff coming from outside the European Economic Area.

"We went overseas to the Philippines twice in the last year. We have offered posts to in excess of 100 nurses there,” she said. "Three have arrived.”

"The reason is we just can't get them through the International English Language Test. And the reason for that is the UK sets the standard to pass that higher than anywhere else in the world.”

The trust has had unfilled vacancies for more than 100 registered nurses for more than a year, part of a 600 nurse shortfall across the Black Country, according to Ms Overfield.

In May the NMC indicated it might introduce easier language tests, admitting it was embarking on a “stocktake” of standards following lobbying from senior managers and recruitment agencies.

Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: “We can’t afford to have nurses who don’t understand what you are saying.

“We already have some nurses who don’t understand what you are saying and that is a concern.

“We need to work hard to make sure they get to the right standard before they start work.”

The NMC said the English language test for foreign nurses is on a par with equivalent assessments in Australia, Ireland and Canada.


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