By: 22 March 2019
New English test set to fill NHS jobs

The future for testing English and making sure overseas healthcare staff are language-ready for work is the new Occupational English Test (OET). From May 2019, overseas healthcare staff will be able to take a one-week intensive course and OET through the Capital School of English in Bournemouth who has been chosen as a test centre, speeding up entry into much needed NHS jobs.

Since the OET was approved in the UK by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in November 2017, many more nurses are successfully passing it because of its focus on healthcare-specific language. The previous International English Language Testing System (IELTS) available to healthcare workers focused heavily on testing linguistic ability and not the ability to successfully practice safely in health and care services. This prevented competent overseas nurses from taking up posts at NHS Trusts that were desperate to fill vacancies.

The OET is now available in more than 40 countries worldwide and there are 14 test venues in the UK, now including Bournemouth. The nearest test centres to Bournemouth are Bristol, Portsmouth and London.  The benefits of the OET include:

  • it is more relatable to overseas nurses, meaning they are more likely to learn new and useful communication skills along the way
  • it tests language and communication skills within a healthcare context with nursing candidates asked to do tasks relevant to everyday practice, including role plays where they interact with patients
  • a much higher pass rate first time round
  • it reduces the time for skilled healthcare professionals to return to practice
  • a higher proportion of nurses who sit the OET test go on to achieve the required standards for NMC registration – grade B in
  • speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Spencer Fordham, managing director of Bournemouth’s Capital School of English, who has been chosen as an Occupational English Test centre and course provider said: “There is evidence that more healthcare workers are passing the OET first time round, especially those that have been supported on an OET course.  We are proud to be able to offer this course for healthcare workers across Dorset and Hampshire and welcome anyone interested in enrolling. For more information, we are holding an information open day on April 6th, 10am – 1pm at Capital School of English, 324 Wimborne Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH9 2HH, with the first weekly course taking place on 13th – 17th May and running monthly (except July) throughout 2019.”

The OET hopes to double the number of test centres across the globe within the next year, as well as increase the number of test dates, with the aim of moving from one test per month to three or four dates per month in the future.

OET is recognised by regulatory healthcare bodies in the UK, The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the General Medical Council (GMC) as well as in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UAE and Namibia.

A one-week intensive OET course at Bournemouth’s Capital School of English costs £250. To gain more information about the Occupational English Course and Test, please contact the school directly on 01202 546 875 or register your interest for the information day at