Lib Dems propose out-of-hours care reform

The Liberal Democrats have made three proposals to reform out-of-hours care and the employment of overseas doctors following the death of David Gray.

Mr Lamb: language and competence tests urgently needed to protect patients
Mr Lamb: language and competence tests urgently needed to protect patients

The proposals are:

  • A national language and competence test for every doctor wishing to work in the UK,
  • Making sure that a suspension in one country is effective everywhere across the European Economic Area (EEA),
  • Creating a criminal offence for a PCT to allow a doctor to operate without ensuring compliance with regulations.

The report followed an incident last year in which Mr Gray, whose son is a GP, died after being given 10 times the recommended dose of diamorphine by German locum Dr Daniel Ubani, who was working for out-of-hours provider Take Care Now (TCN).

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, which put Dr Ubani on its performers list, had taken steps to ensure that overseas doctors provide evidence of proficiency in English before joining.

Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said: ‘Patients' lives are being put at risk because standards across Europe are not uniformly good and foreign doctors can practise in the NHS without a test of competence and language.'

The recommendations of a review carried out by the RCGP and England's primary care czar Dr David Colin-Thome are expected to be published next month at the conclusion of Mr Gray's inquest, which is currently underway.

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