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Nursing regulator considers extra language checks for Europeans

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will consult on introducing language controls for EU trained nurses and midwives.

Currently, applicants outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are required to achieve an International English Language Training System (IELTS) score of seven out of 9 but the NMC are unable to request proof of English language ability for those trained in Europe.

At a meeting last week, the NMC agreed that from June they would start a 12-week consultation on new English language checks on nurses and midwives who trained in Europe and wish to work in the UK.

This would mean applicants from the European Economic Area (EEA) register need to pass NMC checks to show that they have the necessary knowledge of English to practice safely and effectively in the UK.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive, said: “We have pressed for language controls for years so that nurses and midwives can practise safely and effectively, in order to further protect the public.

“The Code is clear that you must be able to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues.”

They will also introduce a new reason for impairment in relation to English language competence to their Fitness to Practise procedures.

Similarly, in June 2014 a change in the law meant that the General Medical Council now has the power to  check the English language skills of licensed doctors in the UK, and was hailed as a 'milestone' for patient safety by its Chief Executive.