How to choose a genuine RN employer in the UK

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

THE UK will need more than 40,000 nurses till 2026, the worst nursing shortage in the country’s history, but there’s not enough UK graduates to fill the vacancies.

Large numbers of nurses from the National Health Service (NHS) are quitting because of staff shortages and low pay. Even nurses from within the European Union are leaving the UK in droves after Brexit.

The NHS, launched in 1948, is the government-funded national healthcare system for England and one of the four National Health Services of the United Kingdom. It is the largest single-payer healthcare system in the world providing free services for all UK residents, currently at more than 64.6 million people in the UK – 54.3 million in England alone. This translates to NHS serving over 1 million patients every 36 hours.

This healthcare staffing shortage scenario was made public through the Health Service Journal in April 2017. Janet Davies, chief and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “This concerning leak reveals that, without urgent action, the government may struggle to provide a safe health service in the future.”


Recruitment of licensed professionals remains the viable alternative.

In fact, the Philippine Overseas Administration (POEA) lists tens of thousands of job openings and approved job orders for registered nurses for UK employers.

Many licensed recruitment agencies were granted unlimited number of registered nurses to recruit. Sadly, despite the existence of these unlimited need for RNs, the job orders remain unfilled for years.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Filipino nurses continue with their job hunt: unemployed, or if employed, underpaid. And every succeeding year, tens of thousands more nursing students graduate without clear prospects of pursuing a career in nursing in the Philippines.

So, if there’s a great need for nurses in the UK, why is it extremely difficult to fill the job orders and alleviate the shortage?

The answer may well be what prison warden Capt. Martin said to Paul Newman in the movie “Cool Hand Luke.”

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

Since November 1, 2017, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), UK’s regulatory body for nursing, announced that nurses and midwives who have qualified outside the European Union or European Economic Area (EU/EEA) must demonstrate their English-language capability by providing evidence that they have

• Undertaken a pre-registration nursing or midwifery qualification taught and examined in English.

• Registered and practiced for a minimum of one year in a country where English is the first and native language, and a successful pass in an English language test.

The NMC currently accepts two language tests as evidence of a non-EU/EEA RN’s ability to communicate effectively in English: The International English Language Test System (IELTS) and the Occupational English Test (OET).

International English Language Test System (IELTS) scores: at least 7 in the listening, reading sections, writing and speaking sections, and at least 7 overall.

Occupational English Test (OET) taken from February 2016 only: at least a B grade in listening and reading, and at least a B grade in writing and speaking.

Combining tests. An applicant could achieve the required mark across two test sittings if the tests were within six months of each other, and tested in all four skills at the same time.

For the IELTS test, all scores in both sittings are above 6.5 and the results of both sittings when viewed together would show that the applicant achieved 7 or higher in all four fields.

For OET takers, all grades in both sittings are above Grade C+ and a score of Grade B or higher in all four fields when the results of both sittings are viewed together.

Test scores for both approved language tests are valid for two years.

Registration process and costs. Having the required English test scores is just the beginning after an RN applicant completes an online assessment of eligibility to apply then pay fees for the subsequent stages during the application process:
• Application for nursing/midwifery £140
• Part 1 test of competence (CBT) £130
• Part 2 test of competence (OSCE) £992
• Admission onto the NMC register £153

Test of competence. There are four fields of nursing and another for midwifery in the UK. Each requires three years of specialist pre-registration education and practice. Most Filipino RNs are in the adult (general) nursing category.

First part. After passing the eligibility assessment, applicants take the first part of the test of competence, a computer-based test in multiple choice format of theoretical practice-based knowledge. Filipino applicants may take the CBT at a Pearson Vue test center in the Philippines.

Second part. This is the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) where applicants would be required to assess, plan, carry out and evaluate care in different scenarios. Each separate clinical examination is known as a ‘station’ and candidates will visit all the stations within a set time.

Each of the six stations has standardized marking criteria against which all candidates are assessed.

The OSCE can only be taken in the UK at one of NMC’s approved university test centers.

Costs borne by employer/agency, not applicants. The cost of registration alone is £1,415 per applicant. This does not include the fees for review and/or taking the English proficiency test. Include the fees to be paid to the POEA, plane fare, accommodations during the OSCE test in the UK and the employers would have to pay anywhere from £5,000 to £7,000 per applicant, without assurance that all – if not most of those signed up for deployment – pass the OSCE test and successfully complete the registration process in the UK.

For Filipino RN applicants, the key to signing up with an employer with approved POEA job order is what the employer offers not just during the registration process but what assistance an employer would provide to help the RN pursue a successful career for the duration of the employment contract.

A sample of an attractive and preferred wage and benefit package from a POEA-accredited employer/agency should consist of the following:

• Employer has partner hospitals providing ongoing support and development to ensure the nurse gains UK registration and further develops their careers.

• Free flight to UK, two months’ accommodation upon arrival,

• Free OSCE test fees paid (and travel/accommodation to test center).

• Free IELTS or OET exam fee (upon passing).

• Three (3)-year Visa and health care surcharge paid in full when applying for visa (recovered when working as registered nurse in the UK),

• Full preparation to undertake OSCE test as part of intensive adaptation program delivered in the UK by NHS clinical staff with partner Hospitals, support for CBT,

• Meet and greet service on arrival.

• No up-front costs paid by the nurse/applicant.

• Free immigration skills charge.

• Free certificate of sponsorship.

Assist RNs in qualifying for the “Global Learners Program” (GLP) delivered by Health Education England (HEE) which includes funding or subsidies for further study of up to £1,500

GLP provides non-EU/EEA professionals the opportunity of gaining exposure and the experience of working in the NHS England for a period of three years, which not only augment the RN’s skills and capabilities through the learning experience but also benefit from the opportunity to earn higher remuneration.

For assistance in determining a genuine job offer by a licensed recruitment agency and accredited employer with the POEA, you may call (0917) 529-8472 or email any job offers you get through the web to chiefvisaofficer@visacenter.org

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