Bloomberg News

Doctors in England Will Have to Show They Are Fluent in English

October 04, 2011

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Doctors who want to work in the National Health Service in England will have to prove they can speak a good standard of English, U.K. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said.

The move follows a case three years ago in which a patient in Cambridgeshire, eastern England, died after he was given an overdose of painkillers by a German doctor, Daniel Ubani, who was working on his first shift in Britain.

“There is considerable anxiety amongst the public about the ability of doctors to speak English properly,” Lansley, who’s attending the annual conference of his Conservative Party in Manchester, northwest England, said in an e-mailed statement today. “We will amend the legislation to prevent all foreign doctors with a poor grasp of English from working in England. If you can’t speak adequate English, you can’t treat patients.”

The Department of Health said it will give the General Medical Council, which registers doctors to practice medicine in the U.K., explicit powers to take action against doctors when there are concerns about their ability to speak English.

--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, James Hertling

To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Buckle in Manchester, England, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at

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