The latest figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show an 86% increase in the number of nurses and midwives joining the register from outside the EU in the past three months.
The average number joining each month increased to 440 between April and June 2018, compared with an average of 237 per month in the previous nine months.
Between July 2017 and June 2018, there was an increase of nearly 2,000 nurses and midwives registering from outside the EU (from 67,534 to 69,425).
The spike in overseas registrants follows recent changes to NMC processes, including which English language qualifications are accepted.
The Occupational English Test (OET) is now recognised alongside the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) language test as proof of English proficiency.
Additionally, the regulator now accepts evidence that a nurse or midwife has been trained and examined in English or that they have practised in an English-speaking country.
There have also been recent changes to the four-part practical assessment for nurses and midwives trained outside the EU, meaning applicants are now only required to re-sit the parts of the exam they fail rather than all four parts.
Further changes to come for overseas applicants will include allowing nurses and midwives from outside the EU to apply to join the register immediately after qualifying – rather than having to wait 12 months.
A new online system will also be developed, allowing applicants to prepare and submit their application and track its progress.
There will be an updated test of competence to reflect the NMC’s new education standards. The NMC will also offer improved guidance and support for applicants and employers.
The revised NMC process for all overseas applicants is expected to be implemented from early 2019.
Emma Broadbent, director of registration and revalidation at the NMC, said: ‘It’s pleasing to see an increase in nurses and midwives from outside the EU joining the UK workforce over the past few months.
‘Indications are that the changes we’ve made are making a difference – but it’s very early days and we must wait to see if this trend continues.
‘The fact remains that the UK workforce is under significant pressure and it’s vital that we continue to enable the right people with the right skills and knowledge to join our register in the quickest and safest way possible.
‘That’s why the time is right to look at the application processes for overseas nurses and midwives as whole, to ensure that it’s truly fit for the future. Our proposals will make the application process simpler and fairer while continuing to maintain the high standards required to join our register.’