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Non-EU nurses given shorter assessments

Nurses and midwives trained outside the EU will now be subject to a short competency test rather than months of training, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has decided.

The test, which will be in place from Autumn 2014, will consist of a multiple choice computer test and a practical objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). 

Currently, nurses and midwives trained outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must complete a three to 12 month supervised practice programme. 

However, the NMC claims there is “high demand” for placements, and applicants are finding it hard to get places. 

An NMC statement acknowledged that the system is “not agile enough” for employers who need to recruit quickly. 

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar said: “This approach to overseas registration is an internationally recognises and rigorous way of ensuring that those applying for registration who trained overseas are able to practise safely and effectively in the UK. The new process further demonstrates our continued commitment to making sure public protection remains at the heart of the systems and processes we use to maintain the register and reputation of the nursing and midwifery professions.

“The new system will not replace the need for employers to ensure that the staff they recruit display the behaviours, skills and knowledge necessary for the specific role to which they are recruited, and provide further support and development as required.” 

The new registration system has already been adopted by other healthcare profession regulators.

Nearly 5,000 people who trained outside the EEA have registered with the NMC over the past five years. 

NMC registration data reveals that the majority of overseas nurses and midwives have come from India, the Philippines or Australia. 

Janet Davies, executive director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing called for more information on how nurses will be evaluated “before we can judge whether or not the system is adequate”. 

She said: “Improving the process by which nurses are registered is only part of what is needed, they must be supported and monitored when they are in clinical practice. It's important to note that no system will remove the need for employers to recruit people with the right skills, provide them with a proper induction and allow them access to continuing training and development.

“Whether nurses come from the EU or the rest of the world, it is vital that employers are recruiting them for the right reasons and supporting them when they get here. Too often, nurses are recruited from overseas to fill short term gaps and given inadequate support to care for patients well.

“Employers and the NMC must work together to complete a system which gives patients absolute confidence that the person caring for them is equipped to do so to a high standard.”