MP calls for action on foreign locums

SUFFOLK MP Dr Dan Poulter has asked the government to ensure that foreign doctors who work as locum GPs have adequate English to be able to understand patients.

Dr Poulter, who was a hospital registrar before being elected to parliament in May, asked immigration minister Damien Green for an assurance that foreign doctors understood English and the healthcare system in this country before they could work in the UK.

His concern comes in the wake of the case of Dr Daniel Ubani, who gave a fatal overdose to a patient in Cambridgeshire, on his first shift as an East Anglian locum.

But Dr Poulter, who still works occasional shifts in the hospital, said this was not an isolated case: “There have been other cases I am aware of with doctors not understanding patients or their needs.

“This is an issue that is causing great concern at the General Medical Council and I felt it was right to bring it up in parliament.”

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Dr Poulter emphasised the issue only affected a minority of foreign doctors – and his concerns were focused on locum GPs working for out-of-hours services rather than foreign-trained hospital doctors who were committed to the NHS.

“Migrant health professionals play an important role in the delivery of health services across England, and particularly out-of-hours services. But it is important to ensure that all medical professionals meet the highest standards of spoken English and training to ensure that patients are given quality diagnosis and care,” said Dr Poulter.

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In his reply, Mr Green told Dr Poulter that he would take his concerns to his colleagues in government to try to ensure that the highest possible standards were applied to foreign doctors.

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