Language checks to safeguard patients after Manea man was given fatal overdose

David Gray from Manea who died following a fatal overdose from Dr Ubani.

David Gray from Manea who died following a fatal overdose from Dr Ubani. - Credit: Archant

FOREIGN doctors who want to work for the NHS in England will have to prove they can speak English well enough to treat patients, the government has confirmed.

The General Medical Council (GMC) pushed for stronger language testing following the case of David Gray, from Manea, who died in 2008 after being given 10 times the normal dose of diamorphine by German doctor Daniel Ubani.

Dr Ubani later admitted being exhausted after getting only a couple of hours of sleep before starting his shift in the UK. He also said he was confused about the difference between the drugs used here and in Germany.

His poor English meant he was refused work by the NHS in one part of the country but was later accepted in Cornwall.

MP Steve Barclay welcomed the move but questioned why it took more than five years for the GMC to alter the regulations.


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He tweeted: “Raised English language tests for foreign doctors in maiden speech and repeatedly since. Welcome now but why has it taken Whitehall so long?”

MP Barclay has campaigned on the issue since his election in 2010 and in March 2011 he took Mr Gray’s sons Rory and Stuart to meet the Secretary of State for Health.

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He raised the issue of strengthening controls regarding foreign doctors at Prime Minister’s Questions in April 2012.

Those coming to the UK from outside the EU already face strict language tests. But doctors from within the European Economic Area are believed to have registered to work in the NHS without being asked if they can speak English properly.

The government is proposing to give the GMC new powers to prevent doctors from being granted a licence to practise medicine in the UK where concerns arise about their ability to speak English.

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