Nigerians who wrote examinations at a computer-based test (CBT) centre in Ibadan, are now being investigated by the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) following speculation of their results being “fraudulent or not correct”.
The NMC said Pearson VUE which runs the computer-based Test of Competence (ToC) to assess the skills and knowledge of people applying to join its register from overseas, recently raised the alarm of “anomalous data” at one of its third-party CBT centres in Ibadan.
The statement added that while 1,970 candidates took their CBT at this centre since 2019, only 512 are on the NMC register. It added that candidates who participated in the exam at the centre have been asked to retake the test.
Internationally educated nurses must complete a two-part test of competence to join the NMC register, which includes the computer-based test (CBT) in home countries.
Pearson VUE runs the CBT tests across the world on the regulator’s behalf, hosting 20 test centres in Nigeria.
When the organisation alerted the NMC to the anomalous data, it immediately suspended all testing at the Ibadan site.
The NMC’s chief executive and registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: “Data from one test site in Nigeria is unusual and concerning.
“We have regulatory processes which we will now follow, and if necessary, we can refuse registration or remove people from our register, to protect the public and people who use health and care services,” NMC said.
The NMC said the investigation would involve 1,458 individuals who completed their CBT at the Ibadan test site since 2019, including 512 who are currently on the NMC register.
It announced that it would now scrutinise the full applications of those already on the register, “to determine whether or not individuals gained fraudulent or incorrect entry”.
The NMC is asking all of those affected to voluntarily retake the test, confirming that the provider would cover the candidate examination fee costs.
It noted that even if a professional retook the test and passed, it would not guarantee that they would be able to stay on the register, but it would inform the regulator’s final decision about their application.
The NMC said in its statement that it had “not yet made any determinations about individuals” but that it would approach the investigations “objectively and transparently” to avoid any discrimination.
The regulator added that it would consider the need for interim suspension orders “on an evidenced basis” as part of each individual case.
Ms Sutcliffe said: “We know the public and people who use services may find this worrying.
“This affects just over 500 out of the 771,445 professionals on our register.”
Ms Sutcliffe noted that all professionals affected would have completed the second part of the test of competence in the UK before they were accepted onto the register.
She also confirmed that, to date, no fitness-to-practise concerns had been raised about anyone being investigated.
“We should remember that thousands of nurses and midwives who were educated overseas have safely joined our register recently and continue to provide safe, effective and kind care across the UK,” Ms Sutcliffe added.
Pearson VUE said it has reviewed all data relating to the NMC’s CBT from every test site globally, and it confirmed that there was no evidence of similar activity at any other site.