Effective Monday, 1 April 2019, the Nursing and Midwifery Council will reduce exam fees for international nurses seeking to qualify in the UK. The reduction, which is over 20%, is one of the new proposed measures to make the process of joining the register more straightforward and cost-effective.
On Thursday, 21 March 2019, the Health Foundation, King's Fund, and Nuffield Trust released a report, Closing The Gap, which found that based on current trends, the NHS will be short of 180,000 nurses by 2029 (10 years' time). The report recommends the implementation of The NHS Long Term Plan, which involves reducing drop-out rates and providing financial assistance to nursing students. To avoid staffing shortages in the interim, an estimated additional 5,000 international nurses will need to be recruited EACH YEAR until 2023/2024.
One of the biggest obstacles in recruiting international nurses is the lack of financial support. If a nurse from a non-EEA (European Economic Area) country wants to work in the UK, he/she will spend hundreds of pounds (shouldered by both nurse and trust/care home) in registering and qualifying for the NMC. This new policy, however, will significantly reduce these fees. Currently, the computer-based test, the first test of competency required by the NMC, is £130. When this reduction takes effect, it will be £90. The cost of the practical exam, OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) will go from £992 to £794. Resit of this exam will be £397 instead of £496.
The NMC is also due to make its decision on Wednesday 27 March regarding nurses wanting to join the register again after a career break. The report proposes that they undertake a test of competency (the OSCE) upon rejoining, rather than requiring them to undertake a course that can take between three and 12 months to complete, which is the current standard.
With these new changes, hopefully more and more nurses will be encouraged to work and stay in the healthcare sector. This also enables international nurses to come into the UK easily, thereby promoting cultural exchange and diversity in the workforce.
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Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said:
"By proposing a new way for even more people to get back to work after a break, and reducing the cost of the overseas test, we can enhance the numbers of professionals with the right skills coming onto our register. These are people we know are committed to providing the best and safest care possible."
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