Existing exams were too academic and have been blamed for a 96% drop in recruiting EU nurses, leading to a nursing shortfall across the NHS.
The exams were so difficult that even Australian nurses failed, despite English being their mother tongue.
The Occupational English Test is said to be easier as it tests nurses’ knowledge of medical terms in contrast to understanding complex scientific processes and articles.
Under the new rules, set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, overseas nurses can take a simpler exam to demonstrate their English language capability.
The move comes into force this month and the Royal College of Nursing said it would ‘firmly oppose’ any relaxation in standards ‘just to plug workforce gaps’.