To date many midwives and nurses have not been able to “demonstrate they can communicate effectively”. Communication and cultural barriers in health acknowledged. Litigation results..

In a recent BBC news item communication and cultural barriers in health are acknowledged. The BBC reports 19th Jan 2016: EU nurses face English language checks. The result of long term rationing in places awarded to UK students, is the official policy to import now? Will this also apply to doctors? It’s a lot cheaper short term, but in the long term the litigation far outweighs the gain… The cost of litigation, for both Midwives, Nurses and GPs is becoming extortionate, and the majority of cases do not involve British trained persons..

Nurses and midwives coming to Britain from the EU will now need to prove they are fluent in English, under new rules.

Until now, checks have only been applied to nurses outside the EU.

It means any nurse who is unable to show they have sufficient language skills will need to have an English language assessment.

The move by the Nursing and Midwifery Council brings the profession in line with doctors, who are already vetted in this way for patient safety.

The risk of a doctor not being fluent in English was highlighted by a lethal mistake made by Dr Daniel Ubani, a German doctor doing an out-of-hours shift who gave a lethal dose of a painkiller to patient David Gray in 2008.

As a German citizen he was able to register to work in the UK without passing a language test.

Language checks

NMC Chief Executive Jackie Smith said: “From now on all nurses and midwives applying to join the register from outside the UK, including the EU, will have to demonstrate they can communicate effectively to a high standard of English.

“The ability to communicate effectively with patients is fundamental to patient safety and a principle that is central to our code.”

Tests will check listening, reading, writing and speaking fluency.

And if an allegation is made that a nurse or midwife already working in the UK does not meet the necessary English language skills, they could be investigated under fitness to practise rules.

The NMC has more than 690,000 nurses and midwives on its register. Around 66,000 of these come from non-EU countries and 33,000 from the EU.

The UK is looking to recruit more foreign nurses.

In October, the government temporarily lifted restrictions on recruiting nurses from overseas by adding the profession to its Shortage Occupation List.

This means nurses from outside the European Economic Area now have their applications prioritised.

The Department of Health said the move was designed to ease pressure on the NHS without having to reply on expensive agency staff.

Katherine Murphy of The Patients Association said: “Nurses from other countries make an extremely important contribution to healthcare in the UK. However, we hear from patients on our National Helpline that there can be real issues with some overseas health professionals; including problems with communication and a lack of understanding of processes and procedures.

“The Patients Association calls on all Trusts to ensure that their staff meet these new requirements, and that all overseas nurses have the necessary support andtraining to be able to offer patients safe and effective care.”

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Midwives, Nurses, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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