Skip to main content

Health: Foreign Doctors

Volume 718: debated on Monday 29 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their implementation of European Union rules that outlaw checks on foreign doctors' language skills takes account of risks to United Kingdom patients, as shown by the death of Mr David Gray who died as a result of being treated by a German doctor with poor English skills. [HL2854]

Under Directive 2005/36/EC language knowledge is not a ground for refusing recognition of the qualifications of a national of another member state.

The United Kingdom has therefore transposed the provisions in the directive that migrants shall “have a knowledge of languages necessary for practising the profession in the host member state”, not at the point of registration, but at the point where a doctor seeks to provide services in a community; through the Performers List Regulations 2004 and through obligations on employers.

Health Service Circular 1999/137 makes it clear to all National Health Service employers that they are responsible for ensuring that the staff they employ have the necessary language and communication skills needed to do their job safely and effectively.