Calls to step up testing of EU doctors’ language skills ignored, investigation finds

DEMANDS to step up testing of EU doctors’ language skills - prompted by the unlawful killing of a Fenland man by a German GP - have been ignored.

That’s the conclusion of an investigation by medical magazine Pulse, which claims that only a handful of foreign doctors have been tested for clinical competence and language skills in the past 18 months.

The issue came to light in 2008 after the death of Manea resident David Gray.

The 70-year-old was given a fatal dose of the painkiller diamorphine by Dr Daniel Ubani, a German doctor working as an out of hours locum GP. Dr Ubani had been on his first and only shift in Britain.

A Pulse investigation in 2010 revealed that only 23 per cent of EU doctors registered to work as GPs in this country had been tested for language, and just 17 per cent for clinical competence.

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The survey prompted the Government and the General Medical Council (GMC) to call for urgent action.

But new data from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) reveals that only four per cent of those registered doctors who were untested have since been checked for language or clinical skills.

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Pulse editor Richard Hoey said: “It’s astonishing just how impervious primary care trusts have been to demands from ministers and the GMC to get their houses in order.”

Freedom of Information requests sent by Pulse provided data from 51 PCTs, covering 792 EU doctors. Just 25 of these doctors had been tested since October 2010 across the 51 trusts.

None of the EU doctors failed, but one GP was expelled from the performers list for refusing to take part in an appraisal. More than 40 trusts said they could not provide data on whether doctors had been checked.

Chaand Nagpaul, from the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: “It is extremely worrying if PCTs are not implementing performance tests, on the back of the adverse events in recent years.

“It does worry me that in this massive reorganisation of the NHS, PCTs have struggled to carry out their statutory functions.”

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