Call for tougher fitness-to-practise tests for European doctors

The GMC and the RCGP are calling for tougher fitness-to-practise tests for European doctors working in the UK.

Professor Steve Field
Professor Steve Field

By Joe Lepper

The call follows the death of 70-year-old patient David Gray, who was given a fatal painkiller overdose by German doctor Dr Daniel Ubani last year during his first shift in the UK as a locum GP.

Both bodies want to see EU doctors subject to the same tests that non-EU doctors have to undergo.

GMC chief executive Finlay Scott said: ‘We want to be able to test knowledge and skills at the point of first registration with the GMC. We can do that for doctors from outside Europe but we can't do it with doctors from within the European Economic Area.'

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said: ‘Doctors from Europe who come to the UK to work in out-of-hours services must prove they are of the same quality as our home-grown doctors. We are not convinced there are appropriate checks in place to ensure they are.'

Professor Field is also calling for a ‘comprehensive review' of out-of-hours care, in particular its reliance on doctors from abroad.

He added: ‘I am particularly worried about the use of doctors from Europe flying in to provide out-of-hours care and then flying back to their home countries to provide services there. It's not good for patients here or in their home countries.'

A DoH spokeswoman indicated such a review is unlikely.

She said: ‘The 2006 National Audit Office report into out-of-hours services found no evidence of risk to patient safety and the latest report from the Healthcare Commission in 2008 found that the NHS has significantly improved performance on out of hours services since 2005.'


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