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Doctors from overseas must speak English

4th October 2011

The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is expected to announce at the Conservative Party conference that foreign GPs will not be able to work in the health service without passing a language examination.

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Mr Lansley is expected to tell the conference that he has an "absolute commitment" to the wellbeing of patients and will ensure GPs are tested to uphold this.

The decision follows the death of a patient in 2008 who was being treated by a German locum GP.

On his first shift in February Daniel Ubani gave David Gray, a 70-year-old patient, an injection of painkillers which killed him.

An investigation found that Dr Ubani had not been passed to work in Leeds due to his poor command of the English language.

Mr Lansley will say: "There is considerable anxiety amongst the public about the ability of doctors to speak English properly."

He will add: "We will introduce a mandatory check at a local level for language skills. NHS doctors are overseen by 'responsible officers', who make sure that they are appropriately trained and qualified for the role."

"The regulations governing the roles of these responsible officers will be amended so that they have a duty to check the English language skills of all new foreign doctors before they can be employed by the NHS in England."

"In addition, we will give the GMC [General Medical Council] explicit new powers to be able to take action against doctors when there are concerns about their ability to speak English."

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