Government to unveil plan to improve NHS language skills

 

Doctors whose English is not up to scratch could be struck off amid fears that patients are being put at risk.

Plans unveiled today would also see senior medics ordered to ensure that all staff at their organisations have adequate language skills.

Concerns have been raised after cases in which foreign doctors were said to have provided sub-standard care.

Those coming to the UK from outside the EU already face strict language tests. But some 23,000 doctors from within the area are said to have registered to work in the NHS without being asked if they can speak English properly.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the moves, being put out for consultation, would help protect patients.

"It is absolutely crucial that we get this right," he said. "Clearly if a doctor can't speak proper English then they won't be able to communicate effectively with their patients.

"It can also lead to situations where doctors put patients' safety at risk.

"The last Government knew this was a problem but failed to change the system to protect patients.

"We will create a legal duty that will mean doctors in hospitals and in the community will have to ensure that anyone hired is able to speak English and is suitably qualified and experienced for the role.

"This will create proper accountability and will leave no-one in any doubt about our desire to protect patients."

Some 500 "responsible officers" at hospitals and other organisations will be tasked with checking language skills.

Mr Lansley went on: "We need to bring some common sense back and ensure that if a doctor is judged not to have the language skills to be able to work properly or safely in the NHS that they can be suspended or removed from the register.

"Under the current system, if there are serious concerns about a doctor who can't speak English it can still be difficult to strike them off unless they have actually harmed a patient.

"That is not good enough and it has to change.

"We must be able to take action to protect patients if there are genuine concerns rather than just hoping for the best.

"So we will look to amend the General Medical Council's powers to make it easier for them to take action if concerns are raised about a doctor's suitability."

The General Medical Council has been pushing for stronger language testing since the case of David Gray, who died in Cambridgeshire in 2008.

He was killed by German doctor Daniel Ubani who administered 10 times the normal dose of diamorphine.

Dr Ubani admitted being exhausted after getting only a couple of hours sleep before starting his shift in the UK, and said he was confused about the difference between drugs used here and in Germany.

His poor English meant he was refused work by the NHS in one part of the country but was later accepted in Cornwall.

PA

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon have just launched their new streaming service in the UK
music
News
Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Retail Team Leader - Clothing / Footwear

    £18000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Does this sound like you? - Fri...

    Recruitment Genius: Head Chef

    £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an indepe...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Team Leader

    £18000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - North West - Registered Charity

    £31800 - £35400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This registered charity's missi...

    Day In a Page

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food