Health

GMC to check doctors' English skills

  • 7 September 2013
  • From the section Health
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A tired GP
GPs are among those whose English language skills could be checked

The General Medical Council is to be given new powers to check the English-language skills of all doctors working in the UK, under government proposals.

At present it can only make language checks on doctors from outside Europe.

The government is carrying out a 12-week consultation on the changes.

In April, the government created a national list of doctors who can treat NHS patients. GPs wishing to be included will have to demonstrate their ability to speak English.

It also appointed senior doctors who have a legal duty to ensure all doctors in their local area can speak the necessary level of English to perform their job in a safe and competent manner.

On Saturday, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "Overseas doctors make a hugely valuable contribution to the NHS, but it is clear that tougher checks are needed.

"We have already strengthened the way doctors' language skills are checked at a local level.

"These new powers are an important step in making the system even stronger by allowing the GMC to carry out checks on a national level before they start work in the UK and prevent doctors who do not have the necessary knowledge of English from treating patients."

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said: "We are delighted.

"This is an important move that will help protect patients and will be welcomed across the country."

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