UK's Nursing and Midwifery Council alleges widespread fraud at Ibadan testing centre

BRITAIN'S Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has alleged that there is evidence of widespread fraud at the Yunnik Technologies Test Centre in Ibadan where nurses are tested to determine if they are eligible to be sent abroad to work.


At the moment, a record number of Nigerian nurses are leaving the country and migrating to the UK due to the high demand that has prevailed since the Covid-19 pandemic.  In the UK, the NMC is the body responsible for the registration of professionals eligible to practise and also investigates concerns about nurses, midwives and nursing associates.


In May this year, the NMC raised an alarm that the registration of 512 Nigerian nurses and midwives, who passed a computer based test (CBT) at the centre in Ibadan could be fraudulent or incorrect. Consequently, the NMC notified those who sat their CBT at the Yunnik centre that it needed to probe their data and the concerns it raised.


In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the Yunnik Technologies Test Centre is one of the centres where Nigerian nurses and midwives who wish to practice in the UK take a computer-based test to assesses their clinical and numeracy competence. According to the NMC, their investigation showed that while the majority of the individuals who sat their CBT at the Yunnik centre are not considered to have joined the register fraudulently, there is evidence of widespread fraud at the centre.


An NMC spokesman said: “There is evidence of widespread fraudulent activity at the Yunnik centre, where we suspect some people fraudulently obtained their CBT, probably by the use of a proxy tester, where someone takes the test on behalf of someone else. Overall, this means we cannot have confidence in any CBT result from this test centre and we’re treating all CBTs obtained at Yunnik as invalid.


“It’s essential for the NMC to maintain the safety and integrity of the register and the public’s trust and confidence in the professions we regulate. This means we need to assure ourselves that anyone on our register, or applying to join it, meets our proficiency standards. A valid CBT result is one way in which an internationally educated professional can demonstrate they meet these standards."


According to the NMC, of the 515 professionals on the register at the Yunnik in Ibadan, 48 of these nurses achieved their score in a time making it more likely than not that they obtained their result fraudulently. NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said this may be a distressing time for people facing uncertainty about their application but the council is managing the concerns most safely and fairly.


She added: “We will refer each of these cases to an independent panel, called an Investigating Committee, to decide whether they gained fraudulent entry to the register. In line with our existing policy, those individuals will be offered three opportunities to take a new CBT and will be able to give the Investigating Committee information about the circumstances in which they took the CBT at Yunnik, including any mitigating circumstances or character references.


"They’ll have the chance to attend a hearing to provide the Investigating Committee with evidence in person. If the Investigating Committee decides that an individual’s entry to our register was fraudulently obtained, they’re likely to direct us to remove that individual from the register but an individual would have a right to appeal against this decision.


“Based on the evidence at this stage, we are not taking forward allegations of fraud for the remaining 467 professionals on the register who took their CBT at Yunnik. However, because we are treating all CBTs from the Yunnik site as invalid, they will need to re-sit the test successfully to remain on our register."


A total of 3,383 Nigerian-trained nurses and midwives were licensed to practice in the UK from April 1, 2022, to March 2023. Data from the NMC also showed that so far, 10,639 Nigerian nurses and midwives practice in the UK.


Ms Sutcliffe added: “Internationally educated nurses and midwives make an incredibly important contribution to our health and social care system. Our paramount concern remains to protect the public by maintaining the integrity of the register for nursing and midwifery professionals practising in the UK, which is why we’ve responded to this situation with such painstaking care and consideration.


“We’ve kept employers and key partners, including trade unions and other support groups, updated while we’ve worked through this, encouraging them to support individuals affected and proactively tackle any incidents of racism or discrimination that may have arisen. We’ll continue that dialogue while we move forward with this regulatory action and I’m grateful for their collaboration and understanding.”