Lords call for tougher checks on EU doctors


Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Doctors and nurses from the EU who come to work in the UK without being subject to proper checks pose an "unacceptable risk" to the safety of patients, a committee of the House of Lords says.

Tougher rules are needed including English tests and a system to check they have not been subject to disciplinary action, it says.

The risks of bringing in foreign doctors to cover staff shortages in the UK were exposed in 2008 by the death of David Gray, 70, a patient in Oxfordshire who was given an overdose of morphine by a German GP, Daniel Ubani.

The EU directive that permits the free movement of healthcare professionals throughout Europe is under review and a new, tougher directive is due to be issued next year. The General Medical Council has been working with 20 other regulators to agree the terms.

Baroness Young, chairwoman of the Lords Social Policies and Consumer Protection EU Sub-committee, said: "It is absolutely unacceptable that current EU rules put patients in the UK and elsewhere at risk. The EU is failing our patients. We recognise that mobility within the EU can bring significant benefits but we have to make sure that this is not at the expense of patients' health."

Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary, said: "We are acting now to strengthen the law on checking foreign doctors' language skills. We will make it mandatory for responsible officers to make sure that doctors are properly trained and qualified, with the right language skills for the job. We will also give the General Medical Council new powers to take action against doctors when there are concerns about their ability to speak English."

"It's completely unacceptable for doctors to work in the NHS if they can't speak English properly. If you can't speak adequate English, you can't treat patients."