TPG International

Candidate Information

NMC Requirements – English Language Competency


In March 2015, new UK legislation (The Health Care and Associated Professions Order 2015) was approved which introduced new requirements relating to English language competence for certain professions including nurses and midwives.

The NMC ran a consultation period between 1st June 2015 and 21st August 2015

The NMC has now published new requirements of evidence of language competence for all EU Trained nurses and midwives wishing to join or re-enter the register from 18th January 2016.

01-11-2017 Update

NMC will now accept the Occupational English Test (OET) in addition to the International English Language Test System (IELTS), as proof of a nurse or midwife’s English language competence. While this provides an alternative way for nurses and midwives to demonstrate their English language capability, applicants will still need to meet NMC existing English language standards.

Who will this affect?

All EU trained nurses and midwives will need to provide evidence they have the necessary knowledge of English as a prerequisite for registration with the NMC from 18th January 2016.

All nurses and midwives seeking readmission following a lapse in Registration who originally trained in EU countries.

Nurses who have a Fitness to Practice action or allegation who already have registration, where concerns are raised about their knowledge of English. In theory this could apply to any EU nurse or midwife currently registered and working in the UK if concerns are raised. Guidance will be released for decision makers and fitness to practice panels to ensure fairness.

How will it be assessed?

Applicants who have trained in the UK will automatically satisfy they meet the requirements.

All EU nurse and midwife applicants from January 18th 2016 trained outside the UK will be required to demonstrate they have adequate language skills in order to complete the registration with the NMC.

The NMC will only ask for evidence once the initial application has been approved in terms of eligibility to register for the NMC. Therefore language controls will only be carried out after the recognition of a professional qualification, but before registration.

The NMC will accept the following as demonstration of language competence:

IELTS with a minimum score of 7.0 and at least 7.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (valid in the last 2 years) or if the certificate is older than 2 years if the registrant can prove their language skills have not deteriorated in that time. Evidence may be completing post graduate study taught and examined in English, or evidence that they have practiced as a nurse or midwife in a country where English is the first and native language.

Evidence of a pre-registration course taught and examined in English. The course must be composed of at least 50% clinical interaction. At least 75% of the course’s clinical interaction with patients, service users, their families or other health care professionals must have taken place in English.

Evidence of registration and two years of registered practice with a nursing and midwifery regulator in a country where English is the first and native language where a language assessment was required for registration.

01-11-2017 Update

From the 1st of November 2017, NMC will also accept the OET (Occupational English Test) as proof of English language competence.

A brief description of the OET test is given below:

OET Test Format

There are 4 skills-based papers: Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking.

The Listening and Reading papers are designed to assess a candidate’s ability to understand spoken and written English, based on health-related topics and tasks common to all professions.

The Writing and Speaking papers are specific to the 12 individual healthcare professions – designed to reflect common tasks performed in the workplace.

OET Scores

A:  Very High Level of Performance
B:  High Level of Performance, able to use English adequately for professional needs
C:  Good Level of Performance, but not acceptable to a range of health and medical councils
D:  Moderate Level of Performance, requires improvement
E:  Low Level of Performance, requires considerable improvement

International candidates need to score a minimum of B in all 4 papers in order to achieve the standard required by those regulatory bodies that recognise the OET’s validity.

NMC will only accept results from OET tests taken from February 2016 onwards.

Combining tests

You can achieve the required mark across two test sittings if:

You sit the tests within six months of each other,
You are tested in all four skills at the same time, and
If you take an IELTS test, all scores in both sittings are above 6.5 and you achieve 7.0 or higher in all four fields when the results of both sittings are viewed together, or
You take the OET, all grades in both sittings are above Grade C+ and you achieve Grade B or higher in all four fields when the results of both sittings are viewed together.

Test scores are valid for two years.