Foreign doctors should complete a basic training course before starting to work for the NHS, the medical watchdog has ruled.
Many overseas doctors arrive with ‘little or no preparation’ for working in the UK and need more support to practise safely, said the General Medical Council.
It is to run induction courses for all doctors new to the Health Service, including graduates from British medical schools and those arriving from abroad – including the continent.
There is growing alarm that patient safety is being put in the hands of overseas doctors whose training is not up to scratch.
There is particular concern over doctors from Europe.
Unlike other overseas doctors, they cannot be tested by the GMC on their competence or even their ability to speak English because this would breach European Union ‘freedom of movement of labour’ laws.
Earlier this year, it emerged that a Nigerian doctor who qualified in Italy had been allowed to work in 14 English hospitals although he could not perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and did not understand basic medical terms.
In 2008, pensioner David Gray died after Dr Daniel Ubani, who could barely speak English, gave him ten times the dose of painkiller after flying in from Germany for his first NHS shift.
The EU law also covers nurses, prompting Lord Winston, the IVF pioneer and broadcaster, to speak out twice in the past week about the threat posed by the poor communication skills of nurses recruited from EU countries such as Romania.
In a report on the state of medical education and practice in the UK, the GMC said that more than a third of doctors working here qualified overseas.
‘While there are some good local schemes for supporting doctors who are new to this country, there are too many examples of new doctors undertaking clinical practice with little or no preparation for working in the UK,’ said the report.
The short induction programme will cover areas such as bedside manner and the importance of explaining medical details to patients, confidentiality and the importance of raising concerns about incompetent colleagues, including senior ones.
EU regulations mean that tests of English and medical skills will not be included. However, in a separate move, the GMC will require all doctors working in the UK to be annually appraised from next year.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said that while some of the NHS’s best doctors were trained overseas there had been a ‘shameful’ lack of support and training available.
He also said that being unable to test the English ability of EU doctors was a ‘real concern’.
Dr Tom Dolphin, of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee, said: ‘Being a doctor in Britain requires much more than just clinical expertise.
‘It is also important to have highly developed communications skills, knowledge of UK medical ethics and culture, and an understanding of how the NHS works.’ Source: Daily Mail.
An NHS Health Trust has defended its decision to send a team to Romania last year to recruit Romanian nurses saying it was ‘unable to fill the positions with British staff despite job advertisements’.
Health bosses at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford came under fire after an investigation found that a team had been sent to Romania on a recruitment drive, despite the fact that hundreds of job cuts – including 250 nurses – were planned at Barts and London NHS Trust just 20 miles away.
But a spokesman from Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust hit back arguing they had been ‘unable to fill advertised nursing positions with local nurses’ and were forced to look abroad.
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