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GMC urges immediate action over EU doctors

By Ian Quinn

The GMC has urged NHS managers to take immediate action to clamp down on potentially substandard EU doctors working in out-of-hours services.

In a letter obtained by Pulse, chief executive Niall Dickson urges PCTs not to wait for legal clarification to ensure all GPs working in local services are competent and have sufficient grasp of English.

Pulse reported last month that the GMC is appealing to the Government to close a legal loophole meaning it cannot apply the same scrutiny to non-UK GPs from the EU as it does to UK or other international doctors.

But the letter says trusts need to do more straight away to prevent a repeat of incidents such as the tragic death of out-of-hours patient David Gray.

The letter to trusts says: ‘Inclusion on the register provides limited assurance about a doctor's fitness to practise. In particular you will wish to know whether the applicant had to prove their professional and linguistic competency to the GMC.'

‘Even then you should bear in mind that a doctor's medical knowledge and skills, and their proficiency in English, will change over time.'

Mr Dickson told Pulse he had written to managers to ‘spell out what their responsibilities are' and point out ‘we have a gaping hole in our registration system'.

He added: ‘They can test language skills and they should because there is a gap in relation to Europe. The letter says, "this is your responsibility".'