david gray sons

Pictured: with then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and the sons of David Gray, who died in February 2008 following a fatal overdose administered by Dr Daniel Ubani

New powers to protect patients from doctors who cannot speak English come into force today, following a campaign I launched after the death of my constituent David Gray at the hands of an incompetent foreign qualified doctor.

Doctors who qualified within the European Union will now also be subject to appropriate language testing, whereas previously the control only applied to doctors who qualified from outside the EU. This closes a loophole I highlighted at Prime Minister’s Questions as long ago as 18th April 2012, in articles on Conservative Home, and in a series of written parliamentary questions.

The risk of a doctor not being suitably fluent in English was highlighted by the death of Manea resident David Gray in February 2008 following a fatal overdose administered by Dr Daniel Ubani, a German qualified doctor working on his first and only shift in the UK.

Given that, as of April this year 27,641 doctors are registered with the GMC who have qualified in European countries, this week’s announcement is a major step forward for patient safety. It is also an important milestone for the family of David Gary who have long campaigned with me for these changes to be made to save any other family suffering from a similar tragedy in the future.

Prime Minister’s Questions (18th April 2012)
Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con): Following the unlawful killing of my constituent David Gray as a result of his out-of-hours GP’s inability to speak English, I welcome today’s announcement of a consultation on strengthening the controls on foreign doctors. Does my right hon. Friend agree that GPs working in England should be able to speak English and that the legitimate desire for freedom of movement within the EU is not an excuse for compromising patient safety?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is entirely right, and today’s announcement makes it clear that doctors should not be operating in the NHS in our country unless they can speak English. Under the proposals, senior doctors will need to assess whether doctors have the necessary language skills to be able to communicate effectively with patients. If they cannot do that, they cannot practise.

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