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Support for Language Tests on Foreign Doctors

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Plans to tighten rules on the English language skills of European doctors have been welcomed throughout the profession.

Under current rules the General Medical Council (GMC) is unable to test the language and communication skills of doctors coming from Europe to practice in the UK. This can only be done by individual NHS employers.

However, speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced that the GMC will be allocated powers that will allow them to take necessary action against anyone with concerning communication skills.

What’s more, NHS bodies will have a statutory duty to assess the language competencies of overseas doctors before they will be allowed to practice in England.

Speaking about the changes, Dr Stuart Gray, son of David Gray who was killed after a German Doctor gave him a lethal dose of diamorphine, stated that although these changes were a step in the right direction restrictions needed to be tighter adding, “the GMC should have the power to assess the language skills of all overseas doctors before they are registered to work in Britain.”

These changes were welcomed by the British Medical Association (BMA) also. Chairman of the BMA, Dr Hamish Meldrum, explained that these proposals would close some of the loopholes that allow doctors to work in this country before acquiring an adequate level of English.

Niall Dickinson, GMC Chief Executive added that closing this loophole will ensure, “doctors coming from the European Union can communicate to the standard required of all other doctors on our register.”

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