You’re probably aware of the NHS soldiering on against a well-documented backdrop of staff and skills shortages. But did you know that English as a foreign language exams are contributing to the problem?

A recent article by Emma Batha in Context (Thomson Reuters Foundation’s media platform) entitled “English language test dashes nurses’ hopes of filling UK jobslifts the lid on the dilemma.

In the article, embattled UK-based and overseas non-native speaking nurses and their prospective UK employers question the relevance of the two English as a foreign language exams that are recognised by the NMC (National Medical Council):

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System
  • OET (Occupational English Test specifically for healthcare professionals)

“Some have failed more than 15 times, but they speak perfectly good English and communicate confidently and clearly with patients and colleagues,” claimed reformer Agimol Pradeep. She continued to describe how “…some senior NHS staff – dismayed by the nurses’ situation – had tried the test themselves, and failed it, despite being native English speakers”. 

There are clearly issues. But in the meantime, professional language lessons are a compelling option for nurses to catapult their chances of passing their English as a foreign language exams – to standard, if not with flying colours!

Here’s a few interesting options.

Three Ways for Non-Native Nurses to Prevail in English as a Foreign Language Exams

  • Individual and Group Learning – 1:1 tutoring and group learning is available in-person in classroom or office settings, and also online. All options are designed to equip adult students to thrive at work and lead fuller lives in their local communities.
  • Tailored Learning Paths – Bespoke learning is especially effective for adult students with specific goals in their sights. It can include sector-specific vocabulary and be customised for adult students with an intermediate or even advanced command of English.
  • Virtual Learning Across the Waters – Online learning for adult students based abroad is a powerhouse resource to help with job applications, work permits and ultimately settling in the UK.


At La Academia, we can’t alleviate the issues nurses are currently experiencing with English as a foreign language exams. But we can help them to potentially succeed against the odds. Get in touch if you’d like to talk about this is more detail.