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Are the NMC changes to the English Language requirements beneficial for health & social care employers?

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Medical Team Discussing Digital Tablet

The recent announcement by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) concerning the changes in the English language requirements are being welcomed by International Nurses and their employers, including the NHS and other health and social care employers.

The approval made at the latest council meeting held on 28th September 2022, empowers more international nurses to achieve their dream nursing job in the UK. The changes, to be implemented in January 2023, will also prove beneficial to the Health and Social care and NHS employers as it enables them to invite more international nurses to cover the vacancy gap.

What are the changes?

The NMC will “standardise” the minimum scores it accepts when individuals need to combine two English language test scores. This means adjusting the scores accepted individually across the four domains of the test, which include reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Currently, when combining test scores, an applicant needs to achieve an overall combined score of 7 or B, however if they score below a 6.5 or C+ in any of the individual domains they are unable to combine their score with another test. The NMC will now accept combined test results with an overall combined score of 7 or B, providing that no part of the test is scored more than half a point or half a grade below the minimum required.

This means that, for example, if an applicant scored a 6 or C in writing, where the minimum score is 6.5 or C+, they would still be able to combine their test scores.

 In addition, it proposes to extend the period that applicants can combine their test scores from 6 to 12 months.This means that applicants will have longer to re-sit a test if they need to.

The second change will enable employers to provide supporting evidence where an applicant has trained in English in a country where English is not a majority spoken language, or where the candidate has narrowly missing passing the English language test. Employers in the health and social care sector will also be able to provide evidence to the NMC about someone’s use of English in a health and social care setting in the UK, including evidence from interactions with people who use the services.


Welcoming the changes, Mathew James, Managing Director of Nursingjobs UK said: “This is great news for both the international nursing community and for our employers in the NHS and the wider health and social care sector.This new flexibility will benefit our international nursing candidates who already match the high standards expected in this country.” Mathew went on to say: “Employers will also benefit from training grants where they will be able to claim for OSCE/CBT training for the overseas nurses and carers they employ.”



The changes will be implemented in January 2023


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