via dailymail.co.uk – A hospital trust has introduced new exam rules for foreign nurses after fewer than one in 20 passed the test.
The English exams are a safeguard to ensure patients are protected from staff who may not fully understand what they are saying or communicate properly.
In June the Nursing and Midwifery Council changed the guidelines to make the system easier.
Now an NHS hospital trust has taken advantage of the new rules.
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust was prompted to try the new measures after just eight out of 220 Filipino nurses passed the exam.
They have now launched a recruitment drive for foreign nurses to meet a staffing crisis.
Bosses at the trust – which manages New Cross Hospital and Cannock Chase Hospital in the West Midlands – blamed the ‘painful’ International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for the crippling shortage of nurses.
This came after only four per cent of foreign nurses achieved the minimum score of seven out of nine across five separate tests.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council said in June it would allow hopefuls to resit the test within six months.
Nurses will still pass if they achieve a score of seven over the two separate exams.
Linda Holland, human resources director for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: ‘Converting offers we have made into nurses working at the trust is proving to be a painful and protracted process – the main issue being the IELTS.’
But Miss Holland insists the new lax tests will not affect the standard of nursing.
She added: ‘This is the sort of evidence the NMC hasn’t seen before and we brought up the fact nurses are having to sit the test multiple times.
‘We would never compromise patient safety in any way.’
The IELTS, the most widely used English language test in the world, is also used to ensure foreign doctors are also proficient in English.
This also applies to doctors coming from EU countries outside the UK – but as the Daily Mail reported on Saturday, the test is not considered enough, as EU doctors are assumed to be just as competent as British trained doctors.
Critics say this is not the case, as EU doctors are twice as likely to be struck off, and that further tests of medical competency should be included. However, this is not currently allowed under EU rules.
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