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Byline: SUE BENT

Sue Bent of the Coventry Law Centre answers questions on housing, health and community care, human rights, discrimination, welfare rights, employment and immigration issues.

The centre employs solicitors and experienced paralegals and can represent clients in both court and in tribunal.

Q I am a qualified nurse from Zimbabwe. I work in a nursing home. I heard there was a new programme rule for overseas nurses. Is this true?

A To register to practise as a nurse here you should contact the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

From September 1, 2005, overseas nurses seeking to register have been able to do so through their Overseas Nurses Programme (ONP).

From September 1, 2006, this will be compulsory.

This means all overseas qualified nurses seeking to register with the NMC will be required to undertake a 20-day period of protected learning time to familiarise them with UK health care practice. In addition, the NMC may also require that they undertake a period of supervised practice.

If you have an offer of employment and are required only to undertake the 20-day period of protected learning, you may qualify for the issue of a work permit.

You could then remain on that basis.

Q My mother has received a letter that she has had an overpayment of benefit of about pounds 1,000.

She realises that this will have to be repaid but is unable to afford to pay this back in a lump sum or in the weekly amount requested by the DSS office.

What can she do?

A It would certainly be possible for her to negotiate repayment of the benefit at a lower weekly amount, which she can afford to repay more easily.

She could write to the DSS and suggest an amount.

The DSS office may or may not agree with the amount she suggests. They may ask her to provide general details of her income and expenditure each week.

If your mother has several debts and is finding it generally difficult to manage, she could request that the overpayment is either not recovered or that recovery is suspended until her financial affairs are on a better footing.

If she has health problems, such as stress or anxiety, which her GP believes would be exacerbated by repayment of the benefit, it would then be possible that the office would waive recovery of the overpayment.

Q My landlord is a housing association. I i to complain about various matters relating to how I have been treated as a tenant. Who do I complain to?

A Virtually all housing associations have an internal complaints procedure. You should ask for a copy of it and then consider whether it is appropriate for the type of grievance you have.

If you think it is you should follow the procedure.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service at Norman House, 105-109 Strand, London WC2R 0AA.

The Ombudsman will not usually consider a complaint unless the internal complaints procedure has been used first.


SUE BENT from Coventry Law Centre answers your legal questions
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 18, 2006
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