Foreign doctors work in Britain without speaking English
Foreign doctors whose English is so poor that they need interpreters are being allowed to operate on patients in Britain, the medical regulator has warned.
The General Medical Council said current European rules represent a “serious cause of concern” and risk to patient safety by banning it from testing GPs’ language skills before they can start working here.
The regulator said it has some doctors on its books who “are not able to communicate in English” but could not prevent them seeking work here under European law.
It warned that bogus doctors from other countries may find their way into the NHS by presenting fake certificates or ID, because of a lack of security checks, or could hide the fact that they had been suspended from practising in their homeland.
Even genuine doctors from abroad may have little idea of how to carry out procedures that are standard in Britain, because there is no standard training, education or healthcare system.
The GMC’s strongly worded submission to the European Commission, which is reviewing the laws that allow free movement of medics across the continent, comes after the scandal of Daniel Ubani.
The German doctor, who worked mainly as a cosmetic surgeon, gave a lethal dose of painkillers to a 70 year-old English man on his first shift as a locum GP in Cambridgeshire, but the GMC had been unable to check if he had any experience in general practice.
Diane Abbott, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said “inherent weaknesses in the vetting system” allowed the Ubani case to happen. “To suggest that workers can operate in our healthcare system without proper training, assessments or being able to communicate with patients seems to me to be absurd.”
Under the current system, doctors from the European Economic Area – the 27 European Union members states, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – are allowed to work in Britain and 23,033 are registered to do so.
Unlike doctors who come to Britain from other parts of the world, the European single market means that the GMC has to accept their qualifications and is not allowed to test their competency or their English language skills. Potential NHS employers are allowed to carry out such assessments, however.
The regulator, which keeps a register of qualified doctors and holds disciplinary hearings that can result in them being struck off, has said that a handful of foreign doctors are on its books even though they cannot speak English.
Its submission to the EC states: “Currently, EEA applicants to the GMC register do not need to pass a language assessment even in cases where there is doubt. “We have recent examples of EEA doctors seeking recognition and registration with the GMC who are not able to communicate in English and were assisted by an interpreter. This is a serious cause of concern to us.”
In such cases, all the watchdog can do is remind doctors they have a duty to understand the language of the country in which they are seeking to work, but it cannot prevent them from registering.
The GMC said it has already carried out fitness to practise cases in which doctors have been struck off or suspended partly as a result of their poor English. In one case, a doctor was found “apparently speaking in a foreign language” in an operating theatre, leaving the assistant surgeon “unsure what assistance was required”.
The GMC said: “It remains our view that the ability of the professional to communicate effectively in the language of the host member state should be a prerequisite for registration and that we should be able to assess the knowledge of language where appropriate.”
In an apparent reference to the Ubani case, the GMC told the EC: “Recent events in the UK have highlighted some of the regulatory gaps that have the potential to harm patients and undermine confidence in both the single market in general and healthcare in particular.” It warned the EC not to simplify the system of mutual recognition of doctors across Europe “at the expense of patient safety”.
The submission raised “serious concerns” about a code of conduct that prevents it from getting hold of translated copies of migrant doctors’ diplomas and proof of their identity, and said that a proposed “professional passport” also brings “significant risks” of fraud and forgery.
The GMC said that it and other regulators across Europe “cannot have full confidence in each other’s medical training and education” because there is so little knowledge about standards in different countries.
In addition, European states operate widely differing healthcare systems so that there is “patient safety risk” when foreign GPs are asked to carry out procedures they were unused to in their home countries.
It said doctors should only be registered to work elsewhere “when they are known to be fit and safe to practise and have no conditions or limitations on their registration”.
Britain’s invisible police: In worst forces, fewer than 10 per cent are actually fighting crime
Fewer than one in ten uniformed officers in some police forces are available to man the front line at any one time, a damning report reveals today.
There are also more officers on duty on a quiet Monday morning than at any other time of the week – and the fewest just after midnight on Friday when levels of drunken violence soar.
Antiquated shift patterns, court hearings and training requirements mean that in two forces only 9 per cent of officers can actually tackle crime, the police inspectorate found.
Bedfordshire, along with Devon and Cornwall, came bottom of a study into what proportion of officers in England and Wales are available to answer 999 calls or patrol the streets – the definition of front-line work.
The watchdog found many other forces fared little better, with an average of 12 per cent of officers available to catch crooks and keep people safe. The findings come despite vast increases in police budgets over the past decade.
The figures include officers and Police Community Support Officers. In some forces PCSOs typically do not work after 8pm.
Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O’Connor also highlighted how one in three members of the police workforce is not employed in a front-line role. These include staff working in personnel, maintenance and administration.
Sir Denis said visible police ‘pay the rent’ because they are what the public wants to see and boost confidence in the service.
‘Oh look, the first policeman of spring’ He called on forces to consider how many officers they assign to front-line roles and whether they are available when demand peaks.
Inspectorate officials set out to examine how chief constables were using the manpower available to them. They found huge differences among the numbers of police officers and PCSOs who are available for duty.
At the bottom end of the scale with Bedfordshire and Devon and Cornwall were Kent and Greater Manchester which also had fewer than 10 per cent of officers on the front line.
At the top, Merseyside made almost 17 per cent of uniformed staff available for the work that matters most to taxpayers.
Sir Denis said there was a limit to the proportion of police who could be available because of the need to cover duties around the clock. Forces need to employ up to six officers to effectively cover one post 24 hours a day for a week.
The watchdog was asked by ministers to define the ‘front line’ and examine what proportion of officers were ‘available’ to the public. Sir Denis said debate continued to rage over what constituted ‘front-line’ policing, but added that it was those in everyday contact with people to keep them safe and enforce the law.
A survey of police and members of the public found most agree that those answering 999 calls and patrolling the streets are on the front line.
Sir Denis revealed that his staff faced resistance from some chief constables and that 21 forces out of 43 did not reply to a survey. But the findings will be examined closely by ministers who believe police leaders can manage budget cuts without damaging front-line performance.
However, Sir Denis warned that back and middle-office functions were not ‘disposable assets’, because forces needed trainers, accountants and IT experts to operate effectively. He added that there were few obvious candidates for cuts, even in back-office roles.
Much-read British Columnist Under Investigation For Criticizing Terrorists
Melanie Phillips tells of the complaint against her:
In Great Britain, the historic cradle of liberty and sanctum of freedom of expression, it appears that you can no longer refer to Arab depravity in the slaughter of an Israeli family — including a three month-old baby — as they slept without someone going to the police to get you arrested for racism.
This is what happened to me. I wrote on my blog about the ‘the moral depravity of the Arabs’ who had murdered Udi and Ruth Fogel and their three children, 11-year-old Yoav, four-year-old Elad and three-month-old Hadas in their home in the Samarian neighbourhood of Itamar, near Nablus, by cutting their throats while most of them were asleep.
I also pointed the finger for this atrocity at the ‘savagery’ of the Palestinian Authority, whose educational materials along with the mosques and TV stations under its control incite frenzied hatred of Jews; which teaches its children that the highest aspiration is to murder Israelis; and which glorifies those who perpetrate such unspeakable acts by naming squares and public places after them.
Next thing I knew was that the Guardian ran a story saying I was being investigated by the UK Press Complaints Commission, which had received two complaints about my remarks – and I had also been reported to the Bedfordshire police for racism.
This came as something of a surprise. If I was indeed being investigated, no-one had seen fit to tell me about it. Indeed, at time of writing I still have not heard whether either of these bodies is investigating these complaints at all.
Stranger still was the involvement of the Bedfordshire police. I do not live in Bedfordshire, an area north of London. I have never had anything to do with the place. What could my remarks about the Itamar massacre possibly have to do with Bedfordshire?
A clue lay in the involvement in the Guardian story of a prominent British Muslim activist named Inayat Bunglawala. It was he who had reported me to the Bedfordshire police – and he lives in Bedfordshire.
It would appear that having taken exception to my blog, Bunglawala went to his local police force to complain about my views and expected them to take action against me as a result.
This is unlikely to come to anything but is another commentary on the sad state of Britain today and the psychopathic response of Muslims to Muslim violence