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Independents' Day

Responsible officer plans for EU doctor language tests revealed

The proposals, which would involve amending the Medical Act to extend the powers of the GMC, will be implemented ‘sooner rather than later'.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson told the Commons Health Committee: ‘[Under the new proposals] in the first stage, we would be able to ask for language competency in cases where we had doubts.

'After that, the process would involve responsible officers. When someone comes on to our register, they would have to link up with a responsible officer who would sign-off that the doctor is fit to practise.'

The move is designed to clampdown on a European employment law loophole exempting EU-trained doctors from the ‘robust' language and clinical tests undergone by migrant doctors from non-EU countries, Dickson said.

The BMA backed the Government's move to amend the Medical Act, but GP leaders expressed fears over the practicalities of charging responsible officers with the task of signing-off clinician competence.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said: ‘Is it practical for a responsible officer to be able to challenge a registration granting authority elsewhere in Europe? If we are in the EU we have to be able to take qualifications at face value.'

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