Language test for foreign nurses eased
RULES on language testing for foreign nurses are to be relaxed, amid fears of an exodus of overseas workers in the wake of the Brexit vote.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is to change its rules so that nurses wishing to work in Britain will be able to take their tests in two sittings if they miss the required standards in their first exam.
Patients’ groups expressed fears that patients would be put at increased risk, from nurses with an inadequate grasp of English.
The announcement came amid concern from the Health Secretary and health officials that departure from the EU could starve the country of much-needed workers.
In just two years, the number of nurses registering to work here from EU countries has doubled, official figures show.
Health service leaders fear that last week’s vote will mean increasing numbers of workers return home, amid uncertainty about future restrictions.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, who was part of the Remain camp, told Health
Service Journal: “Ten per cent of our doctors, and more than 20,000 NHS nurses, are from another EU country, and we simply could not do without their contribution.”
But Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “If the NHS does employ nurses from other countries, it must ensure that they are fully qualified and competent to carry out their duties and that they are competent enough in English to effectively communicate with patients.”