Overseas nurses must pass compulsory language test

Nurses
trained outside the European Union who want to work in the UK must now pass a
compulsory English language test.

The
United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting
[UKCC] approved the move this week, saying it would strengthen the regulation
of overseas nurses and be in the public interest

The
council said the measure is in response to concerns raised over language
competence among overseas nurses, and the effect of this on standards of
patient care.

Applicants
can sit the British Council-administered English language test in their country
of origin prior to travelling to the United Kingdom.

The
UKCC will also recommend to the new Nursing and Midwifery Council, which takes
office on 1 April 2002, that it should investigate the monitoring of the health
status and criminal records of overseas applicants.

UKCC
President Alison Norman said: "The challenge in regulating the admission
of overseas nurses to the register is to be able to assure patients that the
standards required of such practitioners are consistent, robust and at least
the same as would be expected of a UK-trained practitioner.

"It
is equally important to enable applicants to access high-quality training and
support that will permit them to adapt to professional practice in the United
Kingdom.

"These
measures will help to ensure both the strengthening of public protection and a
fair deal for our overseas colleagues."

The
UKCC has no power to require language competence from nurses trained in EU
countries.

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