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Rules on EU docs testing ‘must be changed’ say Lords

European rules must be changed to ensure non-UK GPs are language tested by the GMC in order to address ‘unacceptable risks' to patient safety that currently exist, a House of Lords committee has urged.

The Government revealed earlier this month that it would push for EU-trained doctors to take mandatory language tests before being allowed to practise in the NHS, following the case of 70-year-old patient David Gray, who died after being given an overdose of diamorphine by German locum Dr Daniel Ubani on his first GP out-of-hours shift in the UK.

Now an influential committee of peers has said that regulatory bodies, including the GMC, should be allowed to test the language skills of all non-UK applicants for NHS work.

Peers also recommended that an alert mechanism is put in place so authorities can share fitness to practice information and warn each other about practitioners who have been subject to disciplinary proceedings.

The report also calls for the list of qualifications and skills recognised by the EU directive to be updated.

But the recommendations stopped short of calling for the GMC to be able to extend clinical competence requirements to EU doctors, as requested by David Gray's son Dr Stuart Gray, himself a GP in Kidderminster.

Dr Gray said: ‘The gold standard must be vetting of clinical competence and language skills at the GMC registration stage, as for non-EEA doctors.'