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Plans for GP Language Checks Published

19/09/2013

Government plans to introduce new checks on doctors’ language skills took a big leap forward as detailed proposals on how the checks will work were unveiled by Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter, following his announcement to tighten rules about overseas doctors earlier this year.

Under the proposals, the General Medical Council (GMC) would be given new powers to protect the public and carry out assessments before an overseas doctor is allowed to treat patients. The new checks will be enforced where the GMC has cause for concern about a doctor’s language ability.

An NHS survey of senior doctors in 2011, which covered just over half of all doctors, indicated that there were 66 cases in 2011 where senior doctors dealt with linguistic concerns about a doctor locally.   The consultation also outlines proposals for powers allowing the GMC to assess a doctor if language concerns arise during a fitness-to-practise investigation – even if a doctor has been practising for some time. At present, the GMC has no power to require a doctor to undertake such an assessment during a fitness to practise investigation – regardless of nationality. This means it can be very difficult to gather enough objective evidence of language capability to take strong action where there are language concerns.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks, ending on 2nd December.

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