Exclusive: GP whose father was killed by German locum backs GMC English language tests

A GP whose father was killed by a German locum working his first UK shift has backed laws allowing the GMC to check EU doctors' English language skills, but demanded further reforms to protect patients.

Dr Stuart Gray (right) and Rory Gray: welcome GMC language checks (Pic: Rex Features)
Dr Stuart Gray (right) and Rory Gray: welcome GMC language checks (Pic: Rex Features)

West Midlands GP Dr Stuart Gray and his brother Rory, whose father David Gray was accidentally killed by German locum Dr Daniel Ubani in 2008, have welcomed a change in the law that allows the GMC to test EU doctors' ability to communicate if concerns are raised about their English language skills.

The change in legislation comes after years of campaigning. In a letter sent to the brothers, the GMC offered thanks and said it was 'acutely aware we could not have achieved this without your support’.

Dr Gray's brother Rory said he was ‘amazed’ that the ability to speak English had not always been a prerequisite to work as a GP in England.

'Doctors must be tested for clinical competency'

‘It goes without saying that a medical doctor treating patients in England should be able to speak English,’ he said. ‘If you cannot communicate with your patients then you cannot function as a doctor.’

But he warned much still needed to be done to improve safety when employing doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) as GPs.

He told GP: ‘While I appreciate the hard work that has been required by a large number of people to attain this change in the law, it is even more important that doctors are trained as general practitioners before they are employed to work as one.

‘Doctors must be tested for clinical competency before being registered in the UK, as is done for all non-EEA doctors.’

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