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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Ministers say foreign doctors must speak English

25th February 2013

MPs have stated that doctors from overseas who want to work with health service patients in England must provide proof they can speak English.


The Department of Health confirmed that doctors must show they have "a necessary level of English" before they can attend to patients in hospital or at a GP practice.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said the new requirements, which will begin in April this year, were aimed at ensuring NHS patients were protected.

He said that 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 to prevent those who can't from treating patients," he added. 

The move follows the case of Dr Daniel Ubani, a German doctor, who administered a fatal overdose to a patient on his first shift in the UK.

A list of GPs will be published to stop doctors from applying for work in different areas of the country if they have been rejected for inferior language skills.

The chief executive of the GMC, Niall Dickson, said: "Our position is clear - patients must be confident that the doctor who treats them has the right communications skills to do the job."

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Tuesday 26th February 2013 @ 12:54


This is a very thoughtful suggestion and goes a long way to protect the interest of the patients. But the DoH/NHS should also be mindful of the adverse effect it can have on the doctors who treat these patients!

This requirement should be made applicable to those overseas doctors who enter the NHS henceforth and NOT to those who are already with NHS and who have already been tested for the English Language proficiency/skills OR to those who are already registered with the GMC after having passed the English language Test conducted by GMC.

No doubt, the DoH is right in thinking of such measure and it should ensure that NEW entrants possess the English speaking proficiency lest the tragedy of administering wrong/fatal medication recur--not that only a medic deficient in English-speaking can commit such a blunder but even a proficently English speaking doctor can commit such an error due to several other reasons such as wrong information given by the patient /

his attendants or stressful working conditions etc.

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