Patients have died in Britain because British MPs failed to ensure foreign doctors working out-of-hours shifts can speak English properly. The matter hit the headlines recently in the British press. Alarm bells were sounded by some senior British MPs who stressed: “The next government must ‘as a matter of extreme urgency’ demand changes to a 2005 EU directive governing the free movement of labour in an effort to prevent more deaths at the hands of incompetent foreign GPs.”
The report criticised NHS bodies for failing to use other vetting powers. MPs said it was wrong that Britain was sticking rigidly to EU rules, which outlaw checks on overseas GPs’ language skills – while France openly flouted them. The Commons Health select committee also poured scorn on the Government for agreeing to GPs’ demands for a lucrative contract which makes it too easy for them to opt out of responsibility for out-of-hours care. This has forced the NHS to bring in doctors from abroad.