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UK must be enabled to test European doctors

The next government must “as a matter of extreme urgency” demand changes to a 2005 EU directive governing the free movement of labour in an effort to prevent more deaths at the hands of incompetent foreign GPs, senior MPs claimed. 

New ministers should also promise to change UK laws which “goldplated” European rules and prevented medical regulators giving language tests to European doctors, according to a critical report on out-of-hours services by the Commons health select committee.

The report criticised NHS bodies for failing to use other vetting powers, noting that no disciplinary action had been taken against an NHS body that did not check the English language skills of Daniel Ubani, a German doctor who unlawfully killed a patient on his first shift in Britain.

The challenge to begin changing the structure for vetting EU doctors before a long-planned Brussels review in 2012 could mean an early clash with EU partners for the new administration.

At present, EU doctors can join the GMC’s register without undergoing the language and competence tests faced by other doctors from abroad, as long as their own countries’ regulators vouch for their credentials.

The Department of Health in England has already ordered that the NHS implement properly its existing system for safeguarding patients following a damning coroner’s verdict on the case of 70-year-old David Gray, who was accidentally given a massive overdose of a painkilling drug by Ubani in 2008.

Read more at The Guardian.

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