We dont have a NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE, we have an INTERNATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE - and thats why they want foreign doctors in the NHS to treat the foreigners given treatment by the NHS.
Foreign doctors' lack of English is threat to patients, warns BMA chief
Foreign doctors must be forced to pass tough language and competency tests before they are allowed to treat British patients, doctors’ leaders have warned.
By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Published: 1:41PM BST 28 Jun 2010
Dr Daniel Ubani on his first shift providing out-of-hours cover for GPs, gave a patient 10 times the normal recommended dose of a pain-killing drug.
Dr Daniel Ubani on his first shift providing out-of-hours cover for GPs, gave a patient 10 times the normal recommended dose of a pain-killing drug. Photo: theafricancourirt
Medics are allowed to work even if they speak as little English as many Britons speak Chinese, the chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) suggested.
He called for tighter regulations to prevent a repeat of the death of David Gray, a pensioner who died after he was treated by a German visiting doctor working his first shift in Britain.
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An inquest into the death found that the medic, Dr Daniel Ubani, gave 70-year-old Mr Gray up to 20 times the recommended dose of the drug.
Dr Ubani had previously failed an English test when applying to work in Leeds, but was still allowed to work in the NHS in Cambridgeshire.
In a speech on the opening day of the BMA’s annual conference in Brighton, Dr Hamish Meldrum said that it was wrong that foreign doctors from within the European Union did not face the same scrutiny as British doctors.
He said: “We seem to be able to do little or nothing to check that doctors from overseas – especially from Europe – meet the proper standards of language and competence.”
Although Britain had benefited “enormously” from foreign doctors over the years, he said that the case of Mr Gray “has shocked us all”.
“It cannot be acceptable for poorly trained, badly regulated doctors whose knowledge of English is about as good as my knowledge of Chinese, to be able to practise, virtually unchallenged, in the UK,” he insisted.
But he denied that GPs were to blame after a new contract in 2004 allowed them to opt out of providing out-of-hours care, which led to a surge in overseas doctors travelling to Britain to cover the shifts.
“Some allege that this situation has arisen because of the ability for GPs to opt out of out-of-hours responsibility,” Dr Meldum said.
“This is rubbish.
“It has been caused by under-funding and mismanagement of out-of-hours services by too many Primary Care organisations and by poor enforcement of, admittedly, inadequate regulations.”
He added: “We must ensure that the doctors who treat our patients our competent to do so, and that they have the necessary language skills and that they are subject to the same regulation as UK doctors.”
Doctors from countries outside the Europe can be forced to sit language and competency tests.
But concerns over European laws insisting that doctors from inside the European Union should be treated in the same way as qualified British medics has meant they have not had to face the same scrutiny.
The Government is currently in discussion with the General Medical Council (GMC), the doctors’ watchdog, about how to introduce tighter regulations.
Dr Meldrum said that he believed that the European regulations had been “over interpreted”, and that there was nothing to prevent a system of universal language and competency tests for doctors from the EU, but added that nothing prevented NHS employers from carrying out there own checks.
Although health Trusts can carry out individual tests, MPs warned earlier this year that such checks were patchy.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, has previously said that the organisation is “extremely concerned that the current arrangements do not provide patients with the protection they need".
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said: "We are working closely with the GMC to ensure that foreign healthcare professionals are not allowed to work in the NHS unless they have proven their competence and language skills, and we are currently exploring a number of options to put a stop to foreign doctors slipping through the net."