Government plans to make senior doctors legally responsible for testing EU doctors’ language and communication skills
Up to 220 senior doctors in England are to be made legally responsible for checking the language and communications skills of EU doctors coming to work in the UK from April.
The introduction of new rules, to be proposed in a government amendment to medical regulations, will come more than five years after a German doctor accidentally killed a patient on his first UK shift as an out-of-hours GP, exposing failures within the NHS to satisfactorily test medics’ linguistic ability before they treated patients.
The case of Daniel Ubani, who administered a 10-fold overdose of painkiller to 70-year-old David Gray in Manea, Cambridgeshire, in February 2008, took more than a year to become public and only did so because two of Gray’s sons approached the Guardian following what they believed was lack of action by the authorities.
Between May and September 2009, the Guardian exposed failures in the vetting system for EU and other European doctors seeking work in Britain, which were less rigorous than for doctors from other parts of the world. Before working in the UK, non-European doctors undergo an English test and face a written exam and other assessments by the General Medical Council (GMC).
“These new checks will ensure that all doctors who want to work in the NHS can speak proficient English and to prevent those who can’t from treating patients,” he said.
New powers for the GMC for it to test EU doctors in English in the same way as it does for others from abroad are also being discussed.
The Guardian revealed that Ubani had withdrawn an application to join a so-called performers list run by the NHS in Leeds when he failed to score sufficiently high marks in an English test and did not provide guarantees he would only work locally.
A few weeks later he joined a list of the NHS in Cornwall, which had less stringent rules on proof of language skills and did not demand doctors committed themselves working in the area.
Instructions have been issued to primary care trusts since then to ensure they check doctors rigorously, but the government intends to set up clinical commissioning groups, each with a “responsible officer” legally bound to check doctors’ credentials and abilities.
The GMC struck Ubani off the medical register in 2010.
Health minister Dan Poulter said patients “should be able to understand and be understood by their doctor if we are to give them the best care they deserve”.
via The Guardian World News http://bit.ly/123EG0i