English tests for foreign nurses are made easier because failure rate is so high: Exam is blamed for sharp drop in recruitment from abroad

By Sophie Borland Health Editor For The Daily Mail

*Current test blamed for recruitment drop leading to nursing shortfall in NHS
*Last month a hospital in Kent said more than 90 per cent of Filipino nurses failed
*Figures show number of nurses in the health service fell by 1,000 in 12 months
*Nursing watchdog announced a less academic exam for overseas health staff

Foreign nurses will be allowed to sit easier English language tests because failure rates are so high.

The existing test has been blamed for a sharp drop in recruitment, which has led to concerns about a major nursing shortfall across the NHS.

A hospital in Kent said last month that more than 90 per cent of Filipino nurses had failed the existing test, which require candidates to understand complex articles.

And in the nine months after the test was extended to EU nurses recruitment fell by 96 per cent.

Under new rules issued by the nursing watchdog, overseas health staff will be allowed to take a less academic exam which is simpler to pass.

The move, which will come into force next month, applies to nurses from both within the EU and from the rest of the world.

The announcement follows warnings that the current exams are so strict they have led to a huge drop in the number of foreign nurses coming to the UK.

The NHS has become increasingly reliant on overseas nurses in recent years, after the number of nurse training posts in the UK was slashed.

Figures last week showed the number of nurses in the NHS has fallen by 1,000 in 12 months, the first drop in four years.

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