A LANGUAGE school in Bournemouth has been chosen as a test centre for a programme to make sure healthcare staff from overseas speak good enough English.

The move comes amid widespread concern of a shortage in applicants for NHS jobs.

Capital School of English will offer a one-week, £250 course leading to the new Occupational English Test (OET) from this May. The test is designed to speed up entry into NHS jobs for oversees students.

The test was approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in 2017 and focuses on healthcare-specific language.

The previous International English Language Testing System, available to healthcare workers, focused heavily on testing general linguistic ability and not the ability to practise safely in health and care. Supporters of the OET argued that 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 Bournemouth is one of only 14 test venues in the UK. The next nearest centres are Bristol, Portsmouth in London.

Spencer Fordham, managing director of Capital School of English, 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.”

The language school says overseas nurses relate better to the new test, which asks them to do tasks relevant to everyday practice, including role play where they interact with patients.

A higher proportion of nurses who sit the OET go on to achieve the required standards for NMC registration – grade B in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

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

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

Figures from last November showed there had been a 90 per cent drop in EU nurses coming to the UK since the Brexit referendum.