UPDATE: The NMC have approved the proposal and will now accept Writing 6.5 score. Any test results from the last 2 years will be accepted under the new scoring requirement.
Next week, the NMC will consider a proposed change to IELTS Writing requirement for for overseas nurses taking the IELTS exam.
Under the proposal, nurses and midwives will be required to continue to achieve a minimum overall level of 7 in the IELTS test, but in future a level 6.5 in writing would be accepted alongside a level 7 in reading, listening and speaking.
The NMC has consulted widely with stakeholders and heard that despite being able to communicate to a high level in English, many nurses and midwives taking the IELTS test were just missing out on achieving a level 7.
Emma Broadbent, Director of Registration and Revalidation at the NMC said:
"Nurses and midwives from outside the UK are a vital part of our workforce, without them the health and care system as we know it simply wouldn't exist. We absolutely recognise that good communication is essential to safer, better care and people can be assured that only those who can communicate to a high standard in English will be able to join our register. We also recognise the current workforce is under significant pressure, with the number of vacancies are well documented. The change proposed would increase flexibility for highly skilled professionals coming to the UK without compromising safety."
Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said:
"Good communication between nurses, midwives and patients is of paramount importance to the safety and care of patients. We are really pleased that the NMC continues to carefully progress reforms to the system of language testing, and believe these recommendations balance the need to protect the public with improved access for much needed nursing talent."
If approved, the proposed changes will take effect in the coming weeks. Until then applicants must achieve a level 7 in all areas of the test in order to meet our requirements.