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New OSCE Test Centre Newcastle

Exciting news for overseas nurses and their employers, as a state of the art test centre opens its doors to candidates joining the UK NMC nursing and midwifery register.

The UK has a new OSCE test Centre at Northumbria University Newcastle.

We attended their open day on Tuesday last week, and we were hugely impressed not only by the amount of work gone into the very modern centre, but by the thought gone into the design to make the candidates feel relaxed.

They intend to create a personal touch, where staff are known to the candidate.

It is a very spacious centre with private rooms for study and the actual bays where they will take their exam are impressively modern and very welcoming.

The university has done deals with the Hampton and Doubletree Hilton hotels and all candidates will receive a 20% discount.

We stayed at the Hampton Hilton on Monday, which is directly across the road from Newcastle train station, and we strongly recommend it to any candidate. It is literally at the end of your train, and you can relax and prepare for your exam immediately. Great location!

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, (NMC) said,

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to significant increase our OSCE test centre provision.

“This additional capacity will mean professionals with the right skills and knowledge will have more choice in where to take their test, enabling them to join our register quickly and safely.

“I look forward to working closely with our centre partners as we get our new test centres up and running in the coming months.”

Jacqui Clark, of Northumbria University said,

“We will be delivering services with the same quality as the University, ensuring high quality and supportive experience for all participants.

“We are keen to work in partnership with healthcare organisations and to better understand your requirements for the Test of Competence, be that for the overseas nurses, or those returning to practice.”

The test centre has already hit the ground running setting up an enviable booking system, where trust and employers can book themselves. The centre will prioritise those candidates with visa pressures.

They want to create fairness, where not all the bookings are swallowed up by large trusts – but individuals and smaller employers have a chance to make bookings too.

A South African nurse now living in Scotland, who had to travel to Oxford take her exam said, “I found the upheaval, of having to find overnight accommodation, and getting to Oxford Brookes stressful, in fact just as demanding as the actual test.

“This is fantastic news for us nurses north of Birmingham and now we can focus solely on the important matter of passing our exam. Well done Northumbria University!”

Norman Franklin, Head of Northumbria University’s Test of Competence Centre, overseeing all clinical aspects of the Centres provision said:

“It’s been an enormous task to renovate existing space and recruit a brand-new team to run the centre in less than five months. My thanks go to everyone involved in this mammoth effort”.

The centre has himself as the Head of Test of Competence centre, the lead examiner, three assistant Lead examiners and 20 examiners.

There are 12 actors that are made up of the centre staff, from the admin to the canteen, including staff family members

Mr Franklin who has 20 years’ experience in children’s intensive care and more recently has worked as an educator in cardiothoracic, added,

“Taking it slowly is the key to getting it right. We are starting with adult nurses, as 95% of the candidates are from adult specialisms”. We envisage all areas being tested by July and August.”

The centre will adopt a three-week cancellation policy, before the exam is due to start, if after that time, supporting evidence from a doctor or other official would be required to cancel.

The official opening of the new centre is on Wednesday the 23rd of March, with first tests being taken on 28th March when three OSCE exams are booked, then six will take place on the 29th, then three on the 30th.

These opening March exams will be under Oxford Brookes supervision, who are the sister centre and have been mentoring the Northumbria staff. In April they will be running independently.

The centre intends to be at full working capacity by the end of May, with 500-600 being tested per month, thereafter.

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