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NHS Lose Patience with Doctors' Poor English

The UK Law Commission published a draft Bill on patient communication. It targets doctors, nurses, and public healthcare workers with poor English.

SPEAKING ENGLISH: They announced a UK-wide plan. The purpose is to improve the quality of English language and patient communication skills.

The Bill scrutinizes foreign doctors, nurses, and hospital staff.

Doctors’ English Under Scrutiny

Governmental legislation of the Bill would empower the NHS regulatory bodies. It would allow them to strike off under-performing doctors and nurses.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health announced the results of the report. It said there are pre-employment checks of foreign doctors’ language ability. But, there have been recent tragedies.

It strengthens the need for employing medical practitioners with a good command of English language.

The aim is to provide doctors and nursing staff with above average public and patient skills. It should ensure future confidence in the regulation system.

Grounds for Disciplinary Action

Lacking adequate proficiency in communicative English could be grounds for disciplinary action. They could even get banned from working in the health care system. The Law Commission wants better relations between GP’s, hospitals, and patient protection.

Lessons learned from a recent tragedy involved a German doctor. His lack of English led to a lethal dosage of painkiller delivered to a patient.

The chief executive of the General Medical Council backed the calls and recommendations by the Commission. He welcomed the proposals. They went further by expressing the need for better standards reform. They hope for new innovations for the benefit of medicine and patient safety.

Law Commission Recommended Safeguards

  • Power given to the regulators to change and improve current rulings.
  • Regulators should have the power to ‘proactively’ investigate poor staff conduct.
  • Change some investigations that require a formal complaint before any action gets taken.
  • Calls for a single united legislative framework. This would be instead of the nine individual regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom.

The Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) charity also commented. They called for even tougher proposals and suggested the new Bill could go much further.

Their concern is the rights of patients bringing official complaints to the regulators. They feel ‘doctor – patient’ transparency is not properly addressed and emphasised enough.


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Doctors’ English Under Fire as NHS Take Disciplinary Steps in the United Kingdom