David Gray family welcomes GMC language powers

David Gray David Gray died in 2008 when he was administered the wrong drug

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The family of a man from Cambridgeshire who was injected with a lethal dose of painkillers has welcomed government proposals to check the English-language skills of doctors working in the UK.

Dr Daniel Ubani, from Germany, killed David Gray in 2008 with 10 times the recommended dose of diamorphine after confusing it with another drug.

Mr Gray's son, Stuart, said the "common sense" move was long overdue.

The government is carrying out a 12-week consultation on the changes.

Health minister and Central Suffolk MP Dan Poulter said: "Overseas doctors make a hugely valuable contribution to the NHS but it is clear that tougher checks are needed."

At present, EU rules prevent the General Medical Council (GMC) testing doctors for competency in English, but the proposed change in the law would allow it to do so if it has concerns.

While the GMC would not have a right to test all doctors, the shift means it could act on worries raised when medics try to register for work in the UK.

This could mean GMC inspectors checking for language competency when looking at qualifications, how long doctors have been registered in other countries and what experience they have.

Any worries could then prompt full testing of the doctor's language skills.

'Clinical competency'

But Mr Gray's family told the BBC the new proposals do not go far enough.

"You can hopefully be reassured doctors working in this country should be able to speak English, but there's still an issue around clinical competency," said Dr Stuart Gray.

"EU laws mean the GMC are not allowed to test EU doctors at their point of registration, whereas it can be done for doctors coming to practise here from other places overseas."

"At the moment the GMC is relying on local commissioning groups to make sure those EU doctors are competent.

"There is currently no standardisation and at the moment an EU directive trumps patient safety."

The new changes are expected to come into force in 2014.

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