Why must you be fluent in English to practise in UK healthcare?

Admin September 27, 2022
Why must you be fluent in English to practise in UK healthcare?

You must have a solid command of the English language if you intend to move to the UK to work as a health and social care worker. What does “solid” mean, though? How well-versed must you be in English, and how will your proficiency be judged? 

Even though English is the most widely used language in the world, learning it can be challenging since its grammar and spelling are less structured than those of other languages. What does this mean for you as a global professional, then? 

Must you speak English flawlessly? Or is there a certain standard of English language proficiency you must meet in order to practise safely? 

What is the level of English language fluency expected from you

You are not required to be fluent in all English words. You must, however, meet the government-imposed English language requirement. This will allow you to apply for your VISA, register with your regulator, and work as a health and social care professional in the UK. 

Regulators currently accept either the Occupational English Test (OET) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Both assessments gauge your English communication skills. 

UK healthcare basically requires that you must obtain the necessary score on your chosen test in each of the four key categories of writing, reading, listening, and speaking. 

How much do you need to score in IELTS? 

One of the most well-known tests to measure English language proficiency is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). To make sure you have the necessary level of English, you must take a language exam before relocating to the UK for a career in health or social care. Then, you’ll be able to register with: 

  • The Health and Care Professions Council – Allied Health Professionals 
  • Social Work England – Social Workers 

What are the IELTS requirements for Allied Health? 

All allied health practitioners (with the exception of speech and language therapists or SLTs) need to receive a score of 7.0 or above overall. 

  • IELTS writing score (excluding SLTs) – 6.5 minimum 
  • IELTS reading score (excluding SLTs) – 6.5 minimum 
  • IELTS listening score (excluding SLTs) – 6.5 minimum 
  • IELTS speaking score (excluding SLTs) – 6.5 minimum 

What IELTS requirements apply to social work? 

Social workers must obtain their IELTS certification within the last five years and receive an overall score of at least 7.0. 

How much do you need to score in OET? 

​The Occupational English Test has no set passing or failing marks (OET). However, the majority of regulatory boards and councils agree that in order for health and social care workers to be permitted to take practise exams, they must have a combined score of at least 350 (a grade B) on all OET subtests (listening, reading, writing, and speaking). 

Depending on the profession, regulatory body, and country in which you wish to practise, different scores may be expected. The OET has divided up its test-taking strategies into 12 different professions. 

Is an English proficiency test required for all international health and social care workers? 

No. You might be considered exempt depending on your nationality or the nation in which you are currently practising. You won’t need to take an English language test if this is the case. 

Fortunately, the Government’s website, https://www.gov.uk/english-language/exemptions, includes a comprehensive list of exempt nationalities. 

Even if English is an official language, you still need to demonstrate your proficiency if you’re from a nation that isn’t on the exempt list. 

What if I need to sharpen up on my English? 

Learn English is an excellent online tool if you have a basic command of spoken English but want to hone your writing, reading, speaking and listening abilities. For a nominal monthly charge, you may access live classes and self-study English online thanks to the British Council. You can even take free IELTS practise tests online to see how well you’d perform on the real thing. 

Likewise, the MWT Global Academy has several IELTS and OET preparation courses to choose from. 

If you are not sure you are ready to take the test, please reach out to our team at MWT Global Academy.  If you’re not yet ready, we’ll let you know what you can do to get ready and what level you could be at. All of this is a part of MWT Global Academy’s expertise in assisting you in moving to the UK and finding employment.