NMC increases flexibility of overseas application process

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has today announced changes to its application process for nurses and midwives trained outside EU/EEA.

These changes will provide additional flexibility by increasing the number of times a nurse or midwife can sit a key component of the test they need to pass in order to practise in the UK.

In order to join the NMC’s register, nurses and midwives trained outside the EU/EEA must successfully take a two-part test of competence. The first part is computer-based and can be taken anywhere in the world. If successful, applicants can then take the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) in the UK. This involves applicants acting out scenarios which nurses and midwives are likely to encounter when they assess, plan, carry out and evaluate care. Candidates are then assessed by a panel of examiners.

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Currently, any nurse or midwife failing to pass the OSCE at their first attempt can re-sit ten days later. If they fail the exam for a second time their application closes and they must wait six months before re-applying.

We know that this can put considerable pressure on candidates on Tier 2 immigration visas, with applicants either having to start the application again within a tight timeframe or leave the country, where they do not have six months left on their visa.

Over the past six months we have been working closely with stakeholders including employers, the Department of Health, UK Visas and Immigration and the British Council to increase flexibility in this area.

From April 6, 2017 nurses and midwives submitting a new registration application will have the opportunity to sit an OSCE for a third time if they need to, waiting three months to allow for further preparation, all within the same application. This change will increase flexibility by bringing our overseas registration process in line with the eight month time limit permitted by their visa to successfully complete their OSCE.

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Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said: “We want to ensure that all nurses and midwives with the right skills and knowledge can join our register regardless of where they were trained.

“Coming to work in a new country can be daunting and we want to make it is as straightforward as possible for nurses and midwives to demonstrate that they can meet the standards required to work in the UK.

“We have listened carefully to feedback from our stakeholders and introduced changes which will help to streamline the process for those coming from overseas allowing them to focus on what matters most – sitting their exams.”