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  • 21 November 2022
  • 4 min read

Do You Agree With Scrapping Competency Tests For Some International Nurses?

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    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
  • 8
  • 1308
Health Foundation senior visiting fellow James Buchan reports that Health Foundation senior visiting fellow James Buchan reports that "there will be legislative change to make it easier to recruit Nurses…internationally reinforces just how policy critical this quick-fix solution to NHS staff shortages has become."

Amendments to the legislation governing registration requirements for international Nurses are being considered by the Government following a consultation on streamlining the process in the hope of boosting the numbers of international Nurses registered with the NMC.

At present, all non-EU applicants are required by the NMC to undertake a competency test that covers both numeracy and clinical knowledge.

Adapting The Competency Test Process?

The amended legislation would facilitate the NMC, in limited situations, recognising overseas nursing qualifications if a government-to-government trade deal had taken place; meaning a direct equivalence in the UK for qualifications from certain countries, thus negating the need for competency testing.

Do you think that the competency requirements for overseas nursing candidates should be dependent on the state of government trade negotiations?

The health secretary, Steve Barclay, stated that he wanted NHS bosses, as part of a renewed recruitment drive, to visit countries such as India and the Philippines.

The proposed legislative changes would support the government’s intention to increase overseas nursing recruitment.

‘While this amended legislation gives us greater flexibility for the future, we currently have no plans to move away from the test of competence as our primary route to the register for internationally trained professionals, who make a vital contribution to UK health and care services', NMC assistant director for registrations and revalidation Linda Everet elucidated.

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Could This Lead to Unethical Recruitment?

However, the RCN slated the plan as bending the rules to raid other countries of their Nurses, rather than focusing on training and retaining the domestic workforce.

Health Foundation senior visiting fellow James Buchan reports that there will be legislative change to make it easier to recruit Nurses…internationally reinforces just how policy critical this quick-fix solution to NHS staff shortages has become. 

The over-reliance of overseas Nurses is something we have covered previously. Is the loosening of requirements simply a case of needs must, given persistent staff shortages and critical shortage of Registered Nurses within the health system?

‘Figures from the nursing regulator show a tenfold increase since the 2019 general election in the number of Nurses joining from countries identified as having the most severe workforce shortages’ said RCN general secretary Pat Cullen.

‘It’s plain to see that an overreliance on overseas recruitment can be harmful to the countries we’re taking from. We will fight ministers if they believe the best way to respond to record numbers of unfilled Nurse jobs – on their watch – is to raid other countries. Rules are being bent to cover up unethical moves’ she added.

We will fight ministers if they believe the best way to respond to record numbers of unfilled Nurse jobs – on their watch – is to raid other countries.

Does Overseas Recruitment Resolve The Ongoing Staff Crisis?

Do you agree that continuing to denude other nations of their trained healthcare workers is unethical, and if so, is there a different solution to the ongoing staffing crisis and ever-increasing patient demand?

‘We need to keep in mind that the primary role of the nursing…regulators is to protect the public. Any changes to support even faster-track international recruitment should not compromise this responsibility. Neither should it lead to any increased risk that international recruits are treated unfairly’ opined James Buchan, senior visiting fellow at the Health Foundation.

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Fitness to Practice Standard Currently Not Being Met

An annual performance review for 2021-22 by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) found the NMC has failed to meet standards for dealing with Fitness to Practise (FtP) cases on time for the third year in a row.

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said of the finding: ‘I’m disappointed we haven’t been able to bring our fitness to practise caseload down as quickly as we planned…We know being involved in our fitness to practise processes can be distressing for people, and we’re sorry to everyone who’s been waiting for a decision.’

The 2021-22 NMC Fitness to Practise Report showed only 2% of FtP concerns involved overseas Nurses (including Nurses from the EU), whilst as a group, overseas Nurses constituted just 4% of the total NMC Register.

Do you think scrapping some competency tests could lead to more Fitness to Practise (FtP) concerns, which the NMC already has a backlog of?

And if so, should patient safety potentially be compromised in order to facilitate a political quick fix to the complex and multi-faceted issue of healthcare staffing in the UK?

Please let us know what you think in the comments, and Like the article if you found it interesting.

Thanks.

About the author

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.

    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
  • 8
  • 1308

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    • Praveen Dhilraj one year ago
      Praveen Dhilraj
    • Praveen Dhilraj
      one year ago

      For easy recruiting stategiies i feel that those contries .who have candidates with English as their first language in School ... read more

    • Agnes Malcolmson one year ago
      Agnes Malcolmson
    • Agnes Malcolmson
      one year ago

      No I do not agree I work in a care home and find it shocking that many of the carers ... read more

      • Thanks Agnes. There's a requirement that recruits must meet a certain level of communication skills in order to meet patient care criteria, as you point out. Do you know how those language skills requ... read more

        Thanks Agnes. There's a requirement that recruits must meet a certain level of communication skills in order to meet patient care criteria, as you point out. Do you know how those language skills required are measured during the recruitment / selection process at your care home?
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • LINDA JOHNSTON one year ago
      LINDA JOHNSTON
    • LINDA JOHNSTON
      one year ago

      Under no circumstances should the Government scrap competency tests for some international nurses. I feel that being a health visitor ... read more

    • Suzanne Loveridge one year ago
      Suzanne Loveridge
    • Suzanne Loveridge
      one year ago

      My experience with imported nurses is we have too many. University training Pre reg should be scrapped and return to ... read more

    • Amy Dennis one year ago
      Amy Dennis
    • Amy Dennis
      one year ago

      I’m an “international Nurse” who trained in Australia but was born and raised in the uk. I moved to Australia ... read more

      • Very interesting. Ron's making a similar point about IELTS below. Did you raise this OSCE issue with the NMC? I'd be interested to know what they said?

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • Ron Taylor one year ago
      Ron Taylor
    • Ron Taylor
      one year ago

      I still think that the IELTS is just a money making process for colleges and universities. What need to be ... read more

    • Modupe Oluwayemisi Ayantubo one year ago
      Modupe Oluwayemisi Ayantubo
    • Modupe Oluwayemisi Ayantubo
      one year ago

      Scraping of English proficiency you is not best but they should make it flexible by accepting Employer reference or letter ... read more

    • Adeola Agun one year ago
      Adeola Agun
    • Adeola Agun
      one year ago

      What NMC has in place right now is the minimum that should be required and if that is further reduced ... read more

      • I agree

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

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