Overseas nurses to face exams in UK
Nurses who trained outside Europe will do two exams instead of a supervised work placement as part of a new process assessing their eligibility to work in the UK.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said t he new registration system, to be introduced this autumn, will ensure that the hundreds of nurses and midwives who trained overseas and wish to practise in the UK are assessed in a robust and objective way, in order to protect the public.
The new registration process - a multiple choice computer-based exam and a practical clinical exam - replaces the Overseas Nurses Programme which was scrapped in June.
When that process was in place, nurses had to complete a supervised placement for at least three months - with some up to a year - in the specialist field they wanted to be registered in.
They also had to complete 20 days of study in an approved education institution in the UK.
The NMC said at the heart of the new registration process will be a test of competence, which will consist of two parts - a multiple choice scenario-based computer exam and a practical objective structured clinical exam (OSCE).
The competence test will assess applicants against the NMC's standards for pre-registration education.
Nearly 5,000 people who trained outside the European Economic Area have registered with the NMC over the last five years. The majority of nurses and midwives who trained overseas come from India, the Philippines or Australia.
Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: "This approach to overseas registration is an internationally recognised and rigorous way of ensuring that those applying for registration who trained overseas are able to practise safely and effectively in the UK.
"The new process further demonstrates our continued commitment to making sure public protection remains at the heart of the systems and processes we use to maintain the register and reputation of the nursing and midwifery professions.
"The new system will not replace the need for employers to ensure that the staff they recruit display the behaviours, skills and knowledge necessary for the specific role to which they are recruited, and provide further support and development as required."
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. It is essential that patients should have confidence that those who care for them have the right training to work here.
"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.
"Improving the process by which nurses are registered is only part of what is needed, they must be supported and monitored when they are in clinical practice. It's important to note that no system will remove the need for employers to recruit people with the right skills, provide them with a proper induction and allow them access to continuing training and development.
"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 here. Too often, nurses are recruited from overseas to fill short-term gaps and given inadequate support to care for patients well.
"Employers and the NMC must work together to complete a system which gives patients absolute confidence that the person caring for them is equipped to do so to a high standard."