From The Daily Mail:
Nurses from Eastern Europe put NHS patients in danger because they can’t speak proper English, one of Britain’s top doctors has warned. Lord Winston said yesterday that he was particularly worried about those from Romania and Bulgaria who had limited communication skills ‘even in their own language’.
Under strict EU laws, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) watchdog is banned from testing nurses coming in from European countries on either their language or clinical skills. Such tests are deemed to restrict the ‘free movement of labour’ – the same rules apply to doctors.
Hearing evidence at the Lords’ inquiry into free EU movement of medical workers, the peers were told that patients were being put at risk by incompetent doctors and nurses who cannot speak English or understand basic medical terms such as ‘nil by mouth’. In one case, a GMC spokesman said, a foreign doctor’s husband contacted the council to register her because she could not speak English herself.
Areas to think about:
- The article mentioned that the French have found a way to bypass this EU regulation, by implementing language tests at a local rather than national level. Should hospital and primary care Trusts implement such tests before hiring workers?
- What could be done to improve the communication skills of current employees?
- If foreign workers who can’t speak fluent English stopped working in the UK, how could the shortfall in labour be made up?