NHS Commissioning Board may check doctors' language skills

The DoH is looking to make the NHS Commissioning Board responsible for checking the language skills of European doctors once PCTs are abolished.

Mr Dickson: the GMC wants to provide assurance that the doctors coming on to the register can speak the language properly
Mr Dickson: the GMC wants to provide assurance that the doctors coming on to the register can speak the language properly

The issue of language testing of EEA doctors has been in the spotlight since David Gray died after German locum Dr Daniel Ubani gave him an overdose of diamorphine on his first UK out-of-hours shift.

Currently, PCTs and employers are expected to test the language skills of EEA doctors before they are allowed onto a performers list.

But the government has now announced that it is looking at how the NHS Commissioning Board might help ‘strengthen the system of checking that doctors demonstrate language competency’.

The GMC is banned from blanket testing the language skills of EEA doctors by the European directive. It is currently looking at how it could go some way to checking the language skills of EEA doctors.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the GMC is currently looking at a number of options that would not contravene the Directive, but would enable us to provide some assurance that the doctors that are coming on to our register, or who were on our register, were able to speak the language properly.’

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