LONDON (TIP): Indian and European doctors will now have to prove their proficiency in speaking English before they can start treating patients in the UK. From April 1, new rules will come into force in the National Health Service (NHS), making language checks a mandatory legal duty. UK’s health ministry says it will first make sure a doctor can speak the necessary level of English to perform their job in a competent manner before they can treat patients in a hospital or GP practice. The government says it “remains firmly committed to preventing foreign doctors who do not have sufficient knowledge of English from working in England”. The ministry is also introducing a single national list that every general physician will have to be on before treating NHS patients. “Every GP will have to demonstrate their ability to speak English to be accepted on to this list,” the ministry said.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “These new checks will ensure that all doctors who want to work in the NHS can speak proficient English and prevent those who can’t from treating patients. There are lots of excellent doctors from around the world working in the NHS — this is simply about protecting patients and having proper checks on a doctor’s ability to speak English.
By introducing these steps we will be able to put an end to doctors treating patients without proper checks on their language.” The government is also proposing to give the General Medical Council new powers to prevent all doctors from being granted a licence to practise medicine in the UK where concerns arise about their ability to speak English. Doctors from outside the EU are already subject to language checks, but current EU law requires the UK to automatically recognise the medical qualifications of doctors from countries in the European Economic Area and to register them to work in the UK.