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Yesterday the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announced that they would be introducing new language requirements for all European trained nurses and midwives who are working in the UK.
As of the 18th of January 2016 EU trained nurses and midwives wanting to register with the NMC will be required to prove that they have the necessary knowledge of English to practice nursing effectively and safely in the UK.
Tests will check listening, reading, writing and speaking fluency and will provide new basis for investigating registered nurses’ or midwives’ fitness to practice. Any nurse who is unable to provide sufficient evidence of language skills, having trained or worked in an English speaking country for example, will have their language skills assessed.
The new requirements will act together with existing legislation in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients.
Nurses or midwives who have already completed the NMC approved pre-registration course will automatically be considered as meeting the language requirements and will not need to be assessed.
The move by the Nursing and Midwifery Council brings the profession in line with doctors, who are already vetted in this way for patient safety.
The government temporarily lifted restrictions on recruiting nurses from overseas, adding nursing to the Shortage Occupation list. This move, in conjunction with the new language requirements, has ensured that the UK will be able to recruit more nurses from overseas, decreasing the pressure on an already understaffed NHS and reducing agency costs.
Both the government and The Patients Association are hoping that this move will enhance communication between patients and staff across the NHS and ensure that patients have safer and more effective care.