English tests for foreign doctors: Campaign victory for family of Manea man unlawfully killed by German GP

FOREIGN doctors will have to take English tests under new rules announced today in reaction to the unlawful killing of a Fenland man by a German GP in 2008.

Manea resident David Gray, 70, died after he 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 and investigations found that he had previously been rejected for work due to poor English skills.

He was given a suspended sentence in Germany after a UK coroner had passed a verdict of unlawful killing and accused him of gross negligence.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference today, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will announce changes to the law that will ban foreign doctors with a “poor grasp” of English from working for the NHS.

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NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay has been campaigning for the changes since his election to Parliament, tabling a host of parliamentary questions.

Together with Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, he had met with the Solicitor General, Edward Garnier MP, the Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, Niall Dickson, and the Secretary of State for Health, Mr Lansley.

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He had also sent numerous letters to the department to ensure that “officials did not hide behind European legislation as has been the case for the past three and a half years since the unlawful killing of Mr Gray.”

Mr Barclay said: “I hope today’s announcement produces some comfort to Mr Gray’s family whose sons Rory and Stuart have conducted their campaign with great energy and dignity.

“There is still work to do, particularly in terms of the enforcement of disciplinary action across Europe in respect of EU-qualified doctors.

“It remains the case that Dr Ubani is able to continue practising today in Germany, even though he was found guilty of unlawful killing in the UK.

“However, today’s announcement will, I hope, reduce the likelihood of such tragedies happening in the first place.”

The new scheme will see trusts appoint officers who will have the job of testing the language skills of all foreign doctors applying to work there.

Failure to pass these tests will see foreign doctors prevented from working in an NHS hospital or GP surgery.

Currently, only doctors from outside Europe are routinely checked for language skills. An EU directive had prevented the vetting of doctors from within Europe as it conflicted with the ideal of the free movement of the people.

But the new proposal is expected to sidestep the directive while also calming, what Mr Lansley has branded, the “considerable anxiety” amongst the public over whether doctors can speak English properly.

Last year, Mr Gray’s sons, Stuart and Rory, were arrested after they interrupted a speech by Dr Ubani at a cosmetic surgery conference in Germany.

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