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March 2019

UK nursing body lowers test scores

Melanie Butler writes

 THE UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have dropped the Ielts Academic writing score required by nurses from non-English speaking countries to 6.5, although the score for all other skills remains 7. The scores for the healthcare specific OET exams remain the same.

Requirements for nurses from English-speaking countries to sit a language exam in order to register in the UK were dropped when it became apparent that many native speaker nurses did not score 7 on the Ielts written paper. Ielts’ own statistics show that in 2017 native English speakers averaged just 6.4 for Academic writing.

Britain has a current nursing shortage of 41,000, which is expected to rise to over 50,000 after the country leaves the EU.

The introduction of language exams, and the high levels required, has led to a rapid decline of applications for registration from EU nurses. Nearly 15,000 EU nurses applied in June 2016. Twelve months later the number had plummeted to just 46.

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