This site is intended for health professionals only

Lib Dems call for overseas doctors to face language and competency test

By Smitha Mundasad

The Liberal Democrats have called for all overseas doctors to be subject to a compulsory national language and competence test, as part of a raft of new proposals to reform out-of-hours care.

Under the Liberal Democrats' plans, the tests would apply to all overseas doctors, including almost 20,000 doctors from the European Economic Area who are currently registered to work in the UK.

Overseas doctors would also be subject to enhanced Criminal Record Bureau checks, and a suspension enforced in one country within the EEA would be effective across the whole of the region. PCTs would face criminal charges if they allowed any doctor to work without ensuring that these regulations were met.

The proposals follow concerns raised by the death of David Gray, who died after being administered a large dose of diamorphine by German locum doctor Dr Daniel Ubani. The GMC last week announced a major regulatory crackdown on the fitness to practice of foreign GPs, with a report calling for EEA doctors to not be eligible for consultant and GP posts or inclusion on specialist GP registers until they have been through the first revalidation following the completion of their training.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: 'We cannot allow a situation to continue where we are reliant on tired, overworked foreign doctors to cover out-of-hours care. Patients' lives are being put at risk because standards across Europe are not uniformly good.'

'These proposals will ensure that every doctor working in this country can speak English, is familiar with our health service and is well trained.'