In his first interview since taking office, Mr Lansley told the Daily Mail that he would also end the scandal of foreign doctors who cannot speak English working in the NHS.

He said he was prepared to pass new laws if necessary to ensure that GPs \’have the relevant language skills to ensure that they are safe\’.

Don\’t think you can do that you know?

EU rules…..if someone is passed as professionally fit and proper within the EU then you\’re not allowed to discriminate against them on the basis of their qualifications. Richard will know more about this than I do but I asm certainly under the impression that you\’re not allowed to put language, or any other kind of, tests in the way.

7 thoughts on “Oh dear”

  1. EU rules…..if someone is passed as professionally fit and proper within the EU then you’re not allowed to discriminate against them on the basis of their qualifications.

    I read oil and gas job adverts all the time saying the applicant must speak Dutch, French, or Italian for jobs in the EU.

  2. Directive 2005/36/EC – Recognition of Professional Qualifications – Article 53 – Knowledge of Languages: “Persons benefiting from the recognition of professional qualifications shall have a knowledge of languages necessary for practising the profession in the host Member State”. It’s perfectly ok to require a knowledge of English; the problem imho is that bone idle health authorities and the like can’t be bothered to take the steps needed to test for it!

  3. One way to ensure those bone-idle health authorities sit up and take notice is to impose, as a condition of employment, the ruling that they have to use their own health services. As do their families.

    If it’s good enough for us, it ought to be good enough for them, right?

  4. Peter MacFarlane

    What Julia said.

    I was astonished to discover that many of the high heid yins in the local Health Authority where I worked briefly, had private health insurance as a perk of their jobs.

    “Eating your own dog-food” – not.

  5. Interesting question. It is true that for any given and specific job you could specify a need to speak, say, English and Swiss German.

    The crucial point is that you are forbidden from instituting a language test at the point of registration, say where the GMC registers people as fit and proper to be doctors in the UK.

    I am very familiar with this topic. As a dual Australian/Austrian citizen (working down the alphabet!) I worked in the UK without a language test, while my Australian colleagues were forced to perform an English exam. Interesting isn’t it – I ended up exempted from being examined in my own language because my grandfather was from Vienna and spoke German – I was granted Austrian citizenship due to my Austrian ancestry. Ain’t the EU grand?

  6. Thanks for the link H

    “The Professional Qualifications Directive says that language requirements can be imposed, but they need to be proportionate and on a case-by-case basis.

    “The competent authority cannot impose a general test regardless of a doctor’s situation; they have to give the doctor an opportunity to demonstrate their level of English.””


    In other words, they have made a proficiency standard impossible to enforce, by ruling out standard qualification requirements. Every candidate has to be assessed on an individual basis.
    That’s effectively a prohibition, you can’t have custom made assessments, it’s totally unfeasible.

    It’s stupid, and it’s dangerous.

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