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Non-EU nurses to get 'competence tests'

A 'test of competence' could be introduced for overseas nurses who wish to work in the UK, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has announced. 

The test would apply to nurses who have applied to work in the UK from outside the European Economic Area, running alongside a system of face to face ID checks and advanced passport scanning technology. 

The overseas nursing programme and the adaptation to midwifery programme would be replaced by the new test, which aims to allow nurses and midwives who trained overseas to demonstrate they meet current NMC standards. 

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “We are committed to ensuring that our registration processes are as robust and up to date as possible, in the context of international recruitment needs and complex care delivery.

“We look forward to hearing from a range of organisations and individuals on these proposals.”

All overseas applicants will undertake the test once they have proven they meet the English language and education requirements. 

Applicants could sit a theory element in their home countries online in an approved overseas test centre, with the practical element completed in the UK.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “I support the NMC's work to strengthen checks on overseas applicants. Overseas nurses and midwives play an important role in UK healthcare but it is right to have the strongest possible checks on their skills, knowledge and aptitude to work in the UK healthcare system.” 

The consultation on the new competency test will run until 31 October 2013.