Reduce IELTS Score for Overseas Nurses in UK

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I am currently working in one of the NHS hospitals here in UK and there is a terrible shortage of Qualified Trained Nurses across the country- FACT. Only two categories of Nurses are currently on the UK Border Agency’s shortage occupation list. However, practically all the NHS Trusts are experiencing extreme difficulties in finding qualified Registered Nurses. We believe that this has mainly caused due to the aggressive measure taken by the NMC which has prevented many qualified professionals to obtain the NMC registration.

You may see from the statistics that nursing student registrations have been reduced drastically after July 2016, when the Government confirmed its decision (set out in November 2015) to replace NHS bursaries for nursing and allied health professional students in England with student loans. Students will be charged tuition fees from 1 August 2017.

Another worry I want to raise is that the RCN is concerned the effects on the future workforce will be exacerbated by Brexit and an ageing population. 

According to The Times, nursing degree applications have fallen by 20% since the government replaced bursaries with student loans. The drop in applications for nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects is also twice that of other courses, according to a survey by the vice-chancellors’ body Universities UK.

We would also like to bring to your attention that several hundreds of Nurses are immigrating to Australia and Canada etc due to the uncertainty prevailing in the UK. If appropriate action is not taken immediately the current situation will result in a severe shortage of Nurses and will affect the NHS.

The Overseas Nurses are calling on the Nursing and Midwifery Council to a separate provision for exemption from the English language requirement that could be made for overseas qualified Nurses who have gained a minimum of five years work experience as a Care Worker or Healthcare Assistant in the UK. Alternatively, we would request you to consider lowering the minimum score required for IELTS to 6.5.

The current requirement set by NMC in relation to English language requirement, i.e. the International English Language Testing (IELTS) score for the registration of overseas qualified Nurses is unrealistic and not practical. Therefore, we are kindly requesting you to review the current minimum score requirement for the registration of overseas qualified Nurses. This is a hard-fought campaign. I believe in the value and rewards of nursing as a profession, and the need to encourage, not discourage, people into nursing, especially under the current nursing shortage all across UK.



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