Hundreds of international nurses have retaken part of their test of competence amid concerns of widespread fraud which took place at a test centre in Nigeria.
Almost 2,000 internationally educated nurses were impacted by the incident, which was first flagged to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in May 2023.
The NMC launched an investigation last year into Yunnik Technologies Test Centre in Ibadan, Nigeria after it was alerted to “anomalous data” coming from the site.
Yunnik is a third-party test centre, overseen by test provider Pearson VUE, that provides the computer-based test (CBT) of competence for the NMC.
The CBT is one of two parts of a test of competence that some international nurses must complete as part of their NMC application and is usually sat in their home countries.
The NMC probe found that 48 current registrants and 669 applicants were believed to have obtained their test result fraudulently at the Yunnik test centre.
In addition, hundreds more nurses were impacted, despite not being suspected of fraud.
The most recent NMC council papers, published last week, provided an update on progress that has been made to address the situation and support some of the affected individuals to be accepted or remain on the register.
The regulator confirmed that, as of 11 January 2024, 1,345 of the 1,955 individuals impacted had booked or retaken their CBT – 69% of the total number.
The papers revealed that “hearings” were being scheduled for all 48 cases where registrants were suspected of obtaining their test fraudulently. These are due to take place from March 2024.
Meanwhile, the 669 applicants suspected of fraud had been told to obtain a new CBT result to complete their application, which would then be passed on to an ‘assistant registrar’ to consider.
“We have a webinar booked with the Nigerian Nurses Association… because it’s an extremely stressful time for colleagues”
As of 10 January 2024, the assistant registrar had considered 80 applications to join the register from this group. These applicants had a complete application and had also retaken their test.
The NMC investigation last year had identified a further 467 registrants and 771 applicants, who sat their CBT at the centre but were not suspected of fraud.
These individuals were also told to retake their test because the regulator said it was treating all CBTs obtained at Yunnik as invalid.
The NMC council papers showed that, as of 16 January, it had closed 392 cases of the 467 registrants whose original test was invalid.
This is because these individuals had retaken their test and therefore met the NMC registration requirements to remain on the register.
Meanwhile, 199 applicants of the 771 people in the application process had also successfully completed all their registration requirements and had now been accepted onto the register, the papers said.
The NMC said it had received 41 notices of registration appeals from applicants whose applications were refused, which it said would go through its “normal registration appeal process”.
The regulator noted that the number of appeal notices would likely increase as more decisions are made.
During the NMC council meeting held today, Sam Foster, NMC executive director for professional practice, said the regulator was in the process of writing up a formal piece of work on the learnings of the incident in Yunnik.
She added that regulator also continued to engage with the Nigerian Nurses Association, which she said was supporting many individuals in this process.
Ms Foster said: “We have a webinar booked with the Nigerian Nurses Association to both reaffirm [and] clarify some processes…because it’s an extremely stressful time for colleagues, but just also to listen to concerns as part of that learning improvement.
“So [we are] continuing to engage and support, particularly the Nigerian Nurses Association who are receiving most of the concerns and worries.”