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NHS Managers Ignore Calls to Step Up Testing of EU Doctors

Primary care trusts have ignored demands from the Government and the GMC to step up efforts to test EU doctors clinical competence and language skills, with just a handful of doctors tested in the past 18 months.

 

A Pulse investigation in October 2010 sparked a national furore after revealing that only 23% of EU doctors registered to work as GPs in this country had been tested for language skills, and 17% for clinical competence.

The survey came amid rising concern about the language skills and qualifications of some doctors who trained in the EU in the wake of the Daniel Ubani case, and prompted ministers to promise urgent action.

But a new analysis of data supplied by trusts reveals that only 4% of those doctors on performers lists who were untested in October 2010 have since been checked for language or clinical skills.

The BMAs GP committee said the findings were extremely worrying, and suggested PCTs had struggled to fulfil their statutory functions against the backdrop of the NHS reforms.

Some 97 PCTs responded to our Freedom of Information request, with 51 able to provide data on testing rates, covering 792 EU doctors.

Just 25 EU doctors had been checked since October 2010 across the 51 trusts. None failed checks, but one GP was expelled from the performers list for refusing to take part in a subsequent appraisal.

Some 46 trusts said they could not provide data on whether doctors had been checked, suggesting the true scale of the problem could be far greater.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a negotiator for the BMA's GP commmittee and a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said: It is extremely worrying if PCTs are not implementing performance tests, on the back of the adverse events in recent years. It does worry me that in this massive reorganisation of the NHS, PCTs have struggled to carry out their statutory functions.

The figures come as NHS Suffolk announced it was toughening up its testing regime, with all prospective GPs who have not previously worked in the NHS to undergo face-to-face interviews before being accepted.

Richard Hoey, editor of Pulse, said: Its astonishing just how impervious primary care trusts have been to demands from ministers and the GMC to get their houses in order. The numbers were talking about are not huge each PCT will have about 15 doctors trained elsewhere in the EU on its performers list - so it really shouldnt be beyond their wit or capacity to get these checks done.

www.pulsetoday.co.uk

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