Cambridge health branch succesfully challenges NMC over competancy tests

Cambridge University Hospitals branch has recently celebrated a huge success for three of their members and have been able to use it to recruit and organise new members.

Nurses from outside the EU have to pass the objective structured clinical examination test (OSCE) before they get their NMC licence. The NMC originally allowed nurses two attempts to pass the test.

After UNISON representations the NMC stated that nurses who registered with the NMC after 4 April 2017 could take a third OSCE test. However many of our members are only allowed two attempts because they registered before 4 April 2017. UNISON raised this issue with the NMC who agreed that requests to take a third test would be reviewed on a case by case basis with the right for trade union representation.

Three CUH members were in this position. They took the test for a second time in late January this year and were told at meeting with HR on the 25 February they had failed but could carry on working until their visas expired in June. When they reported for work two days later the sister asked them to leave the ward, confiscated their CUH badges and told them someone from HR was coming to speak to them. After a two hour wait they were told them they were being suspended without pay and were given a statutory bar suspension paper. They were also given a letter asking them to attend a meeting on the 15 March at which they would be dismissed.

Equality rep, HaiSan Leong, working with national officer Susan Cueva, wrote to the head of HR and divisional head of nursing to ask for UNISON to be given sufficient time to contact the NMC and request that they be allowed a third attempt at the test. The branch also requested the trust support our members by not dismissing them before the NMC review of their cases.

The branch was successful in this and the members were reinstated with back pay.

As a result of this success those members are setting up meetings with other overseas nurses from their cohort to recruit them.

As hospital trusts are now recruiting an average of 25-30 non-EU nurses per month the branch’s success enables it to demonstrate to non-members that UNISON is there to support them in their working life in the UK.