All foreign doctors face English test before they can treat people
MEDICS in Nottingham have welcomed the news that foreign doctors who want to work for the NHS will have to prove they can speak English before being allowed to practice.
The new checks sanctioned by the Government were announced after cases in which foreign doctors across the country were said to have provided sub-standard care.
Doctors coming to the UK from outside the EU already face strict language tests.
But some doctors from within the European Economic Area are believed to have registered to work in the NHS without being asked if they can speak good English.
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Dr Manik Arora, a GP at the Rivergreen Medical Centre, Clifton, agrees with the new move.
He said: "The vast majority of doctors who are from overseas or Europe are speaking and communicating clearly in English.
"However, there are a small minority of doctors who are not, and that needs to be addressed."
Mr Arora, who is from India, had to pass a language proficiency test before he became a qualified doctor.
"Of course it's incredibly important," he said. "How can you carry out your surgeries with any meaning behind them if you cannot communicate with your patients?"
The doctor said he recalled a time during his training where he entered a room and all the people in it were speaking Gaelic.
"It was a training exercise and we were told that this was one of the languages that you might come across in the UK," he said.
The General Medical Council pushed for stronger language testing after the case of David Gray, who died in Cambridgeshire in 2008.
He died after German doctor Daniel Ubani administered 10 times the normal dose of diamorphine.
The doctor's poor English meant he had been refused work in one part of the country but was later accepted by another primary care trust and worked as a locum.
The Government is proposing to give the GMC new powers to prevent doctors from being granted a licence to practise medicine where there are concerns about their English.
Health Minister Dr 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.
"These new checks will ensure that all doctors who want to work in the NHS can speak proficient English and will prevent those who can't from treating patients."
"There are lots of excellent doctors from around the world working in the NHS – this is simply about protecting patients."
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association said: "It cannot be acceptable for poorly trained, badly regulated doctors whose knowledge of English is about as good as my knowledge of Chinese, to be able to practise, virtually unchallenged, in the UK."