Changes to English language requirements for UK healthcare staff

In September, it was announced that the English language requirements for practising nurses in the UK will undergo a major change in 2023. 


In this article we cover everything you need to know about English language requirements for UK healthcare staff, and what these revisions could mean for you.


What’s the score? 


Currently, nurses looking to work in the UK must take an IELTS English proficiency exam and achieve a minimum score of 7.0 in any three components and 6.5 in any one component. 


Those who opt for the OET exam are required to get a grade B in three components and C+ in one component.


What’s the difference between IELTS and OET? 


IELTS is broader in terms of the terminology it covers, whereas OET is specifically tailored to medical professionals and includes language you will frequently come across in a healthcare setting.  


What is changing in January? 


Although the candidate must still achieve the test scores stated above, there will now be the option to combine test scores. As long as the individual achieves 6 IELTS or C/250 or above in the OET writing section and 6.5 IELTS or C+ / 300 or above OET score in the other three domains.


It is hoped these revisions will make it easier for overseas nurses to work in the UK. 


Other routes to entry? 


Evidence of UK qualifications gained in the last 2 years


If you have secured any medical qualifications in the UK over the last 2 years then this counts as sufficient evidence of your competence in English. The course must have been taught and examined in English – you must provide the original letter of certificate from the educational establishment which confirms this. 


You have experience as a practising nurse 

Registered nurses who have at least a year in practice under their belt can use this as evidence of their knowledge of the English language. The healthcare role must have been in a country where English is the majority-speaking language. You will be asked to provide details of your employer so it can be verified that you are safe to practice in the UK. 


We hope you found this blog helpful and we wish you all the best in your job search


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