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Overseas nurses can take writing test at home, says NMC

A woman working on a computer at home.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council has said it will allow overseas nurses and midwives to sit English writing tests from home, which they must pass to join its register.

The NMC on Friday that it will accept results for the Occupational English Test (OET) taken on the computer at a test centre and for the OET@Home, a newly developed computer-based OET test that can be taken at home.

OET chief executive officer Sujata Stead said the change would allow overseas nurses ‘greater choice, convenience and the confidence to achieve their dreams of working in the United Kingdom’.

Ms Stead continued: ‘The pandemic has further highlighted the need for foreign-educated nurses with the communication skills in English to provide high quality and safe care.’

Overseas nurses, midwives and nursing associates who want to join the UK register must meet English language standards through either the OET or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

The OET@Home test will use the same format and material as those taken at test centres but allows candidates to take the test from home using their own computer from mid-October.

The OET said that invigilators – also called human proctors – do an ID check, candidate and room search, and monitor behaviour during the test to ensure no rules are broken.

Professional regulator director Emma Broadbent said: ‘Overseas nursing and midwifery professionals are an essential and valued part of the UK workforce, so I am pleased we are able to offer greater flexibility for candidates to demonstrate they meet our English language standards.’

The NMC has relaxed English writing standards for overseas nurses who want to work in the UK in recent years.

It lowered the required OET grade to C+ last year and reduced the writing scores it required under the IELTS from a 7 to a 6.5 in 2018.