NMC UK reviews process to employ more nurses and midwives outside EU

Midwives Nursing Health Ghana Africa News healthcare
Photo: Kobby Blay

Nurses and midwives trained outside the EU will be allowed to apply and work in the UK immediately after qualifying, following changes by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Until September 2018, nurses and midwives from outside the EU must have worked for at least 12 months after qualifying before being able to apply to work in the UK. The change brings applicants from outside the EU into line with their EU counterparts.

All those applying to work in the UK from outside the EU will still be required to pass the NMC’s stringent test to show they’re safe to work. They must also be able to show that they can communicate effectively in English, a statement by the NMC UK published on it’s website said. 

The NMC says it has also introduced improved guidance and supporting materials for applicants so that they can be as well prepared as possible to show that they meet the regulator’s requirements.

These changes are part of a much wider ongoing review looking how the NMC can improve the experience for people applying to work in the UK from overseas, the statement read.

Emma Broadbent, Director of Registration and Revalidation at the Nursing and Midwifery Council said:

“More than 65,000 nurses and midwives from outside the EU deliver first class care to millions of people across the UK every year and they are a vital part of our health and care workforce.

“This change will remove an unnecessary barrier, making it as simple and straightforward as possible for highly skilled nursing and midwifery staff to join the workforce.”

Increasing number of nurses and midwives joining the UK workforce

Latest figures by the NMC UK shows an 86 percent increase in the number of nurses and midwives joining the UK workforce from outside the EU. The figures reveal an 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.

At the end of June 2018 there were 69,425 nurses and midwives on the register from outside the EU compared with 67,534 in July 2017 – an increase of nearly 2,000.

The spike in numbers, the nursing regulatory body said,follows recent changes to it’s processes and the evidence to accept from nurses and midwives to demonstrate their English language capability.

Changes included accepting evidence that a nurse or midwife has been trained and examined in English or that they have practised in an English speaking country. Other changes included accepting the Occupational English Test (OET) in addition to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) language test.

More changes on the way

Apart from allowing nurses and midwives from outside the EU to apply to join the register immediately after qualifying – rather than having to wait 12 months, as is currently the case; a new online system is also under development, allowing applicants to prepare and submit their application and track its progress as well as an updated test of competence to reflect our new education standards. There will also be improved guidance and support for applicants and employers.

By early 2019, the NMC UK could introduce a revised and updated process for all overseas applicants.

Emma Broadbent, Director of Registration and Revalidation, said on it’s website:

“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.”