Nurses and midwives who complete their training in hospitals outside Europe will now face shorter tests to check if they are fit to work in the UK.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) says its plans include a computer-based exam and tests in simulated clinical scenarios. These will replace the minimum three months of supervised practice currently required.
At present, nurses and midwives who have trained overseas make up about 10% of the workforce registered to work in the UK. An estimated 1,000 nurses a year come to work in the UK from outside the European Economic Area with the majority coming from Australia, India or the Philippines.
The NMC says one of the reasons behind the change to assessments is that the current supervised placements, which can last between three months and one year, are not “agile enough for employers who need to recruit quickly”.
The new tests, planned to start in the autumn, consist of two parts:
· A computer-based multiple choice exam, discussing various situations
· Observing applicants during simulated healthcare scenarios
Similar checks have already been adopted by other healthcare regulators, according to the NMC.
According to the NMC: “This will ensure the hundreds of nurses and midwives who trained overseas and wish to practise in the UK are assessed in a a proportionate and robust way, in order to protect the public.”
Janet Davies, executive director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing said: “Health care in the UK relies on the hard work and dedication of many nurses who trained overseas. These proposals may well form part of a more robust and consistent mechanism for ensuring that nurses who work in the UK are equipped to practise in the UK. However, we need to know more about how nurses will be evaluated as part of this system before we can judge whether or not the system is adequate. 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 there. Too often, nurses are recruited from overseas to fill short term gaps and given inadequate support to care for patients well.”