Calls to toughen up English language tests for doctors come too late for a Manea man who died when an out of hours Nigerian-born GP accidentally injected him with a lethal dose of pain killer

Dr Ubani.

Dr Ubani. - Credit: Archant

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will make patients safer by allowing the NHS to crack down on poor English skills among staff, the country’s top surgeon has said.

David Gray from Manea who died following a blunder from a locum doctor. Dr Ubani.

David Gray from Manea who died following a blunder from a locum doctor. Dr Ubani. - Credit: Archant

The news is too late for the family of a Manea man who died after a locum GP working his first shift in the UK killed his patient when he accidentally injected a tenfold overdose of a pain killer.

Dr Daniel Ubani over-prescribed diamorphine to David Gray, 70, causing his death in 2008.

The Nigerian-born medic was struck off by the General Medical Council in the UK but German authorities allowed him to continue with a nine-month suspended jail sentence and a fine.

Dr Ubani was working an out of hours shift when he injected Mr Gray, 70, with ten times the safe amount of pain killer diamorphine.


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An inquest later found he was unfamiliar with the drug and had poor English.

The coroner subsequently demanded that the Government clarify its guidance to NHS trusts over checking doctors’ English

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Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), urged health bosses to “seize the moment” with Brexit by toughening up English language entry tests.

She added that leaving EU working time rules would significantly improve patient safety by allowing surgeons to undergo thousands of hours of extra training.

She said: “We do language testing but we don’t do medical language testing. That language test is often just simply talking about everyday life”

Describing Brexit as “quite an opportunity”, she said: “We are concerned that the current testing remains insufficient and risks patient safety. We do language testing but we don’t do medical language testing. That language test is often just simply talking about everyday life.”

Under current EU legislation, all doctors and dentists who come to the UK from other member states must pass an English language test, which is based on everyday scenarios.

National regulators, however, are not allowed to insist that applicants from other EU countries prove their technical vocabulary in a clinical setting.

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