Kenyan nurses who failed English language tests administered as a prerequisite for travelling to work in the UK will be given a second chance.
The offer to resit the tests came amid revelation that 644 candidates had been disqualified for either failing the language proficiency tests, having expired licences or not being registered with the Nursing Council of Kenya.
The Ministry of Labour yesterday said the disqualification of the 644 candidates had delayed plans to send the first batch of nurses to the UK, where they are expected to work under the National Health Service (NHS).
Foreign nurses seeking to work in the UK are required to pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Occupational English Test (OET), as well as Computer Based Test (CBT).
IELTS is a general English language assessment test that is recognised and accepted across all English-speaking countries while the OET is a language assessment test designed for healthcare professionals.
IELTS is scored on a zero-to-nine-band basis.
To pass IELTS, an overall score of seven or above is required for the reading, listening and speaking portions of the exam. A score of 6.5 is required for writing.
Unlike IELTS, the Occupational English Test is scored in grades (A-E). To pass, an overall grade of B or A is required.
Labour Principal Secretary Peter Tum said a total of 2,685 candidates were shortlisted and were at various stages of compliance with regard to the English Test and the Computer Based Test.
The PS said the number was too low considering that the contract with UK, which will run up to 2024, offers 22,000 slots for Kenyans.
“The number of those who have applied is still not satisfactory. The process is long and will take time and even if you do not pass the English test, you can retake the test. The British Council will help with this,” he said.
Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui advised the nurses retake the English test and recommended coaching for those who would need it.
He added that the candidates would be reimbursed 198 sterling pounds for the tests but not for coaching.
He added that the nurses would be given a three-year working visa and a renewable contract.
They will work for 37.5 hours per week and earn approximately Sh3.86 million annually, translating to Sh321,499 per month.
They will get free accommodation for three months and thereafter staff accommodation of 600 sterling pounds per month.
They will also get a 27-day leave plus eight general public holidays. They can also relocate their families after three months.
Nurses who are interested in working in the UK under the agreement will undergo medical exams, to be conducted by international organisations for migration in Gigiri. They will also be entitled to a one-month full-pay plus a two-month half-pay sick leave.
The NHS has 894 Kenyans working across all roles in England. This makes Kenyans the 30th largest nationality group in the NHS.
Kenya has also signed a Kenya-UK Health Alliance, which is expected to bring together UK and Kenyan institutions in efforts to improve cancer treatment across the 47 counties. The alliance formalises all the cooperation and partnerships between UK non-governmental health institutions such as universities, hospitals and research centres.
In Kenya, the key institutions include Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital, Kisii University, Egerton University, University of Nairobi and Maseno University.