New EU rules will not kill the pain for bereaved Fenland family

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

A new European law passed this week will strengthen the right to check the skills of foreign doctors after a Fen patient died from a lethal overdose of painkiller.

Dr Ubani.

Dr Ubani. - Credit: Archant

Richard Howitt, MEP for the East of England, who championed the law, said the family of the man have welcomed the changes but feel they are yet to receive justice.

The news comes eight months after the General Medical Council announced that doctors who want to work for the NHS in England will have to prove they can speak English well enough to treat patients.

David Gray, of Manea, died in 2008 after being given ten times the normal dose of diamorphine by a German locum doctor whose poor English skills meant he got the dose wrong.

Dr Daniel Ubani later admitted being exhausted after getting only a couple of hours of sleep before starting his shift in the UK.


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He also said he was confused about the difference between the drugs used here and in Germany.

The new European law on professionals working outside their home country requires better checks on qualifications, a minimum list of competencies and clarifies the right to test language skills, with specific focus on the medical profession.

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It was proposed by Labour’s European group and agreed by a massive 592 votes for with just 29 against.

Mr Howitt emphasized that language testing had already been fully possible under previous EU law and condemned the fact the doctor responsible was still able to practice in Germany.

Labour MEP Mr Howitt said: “These rule changes learn the lessons from the tragic death of my constituent David Gray, killed by a lethal overdose of a painkilling drug, administered by an incompetent foreign doctor who should never have been allowed to work here.

“Although his sons Stuart and Rory welcome the changes, I express concern on their behalf as to whether the rules will properly be enforced given that language checks were permitted before and also because of possible conflict with German data privacy laws.

“The truth is that the doctor who killed David Gray is still registered for practice and undertaking locum work in Germany.

“The family have now been forced to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

“And there will be no peace for the family until justice in this case is achieved.”

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