Foreign doctors who cannot speak English are to be banned from working in the Newcastle Hospitals (NHS) hospitals and clinics, the British Health Secretary will announce.
The NHS will introduce mandatory language tests for doctors moving to Britain after training elsewhere in the European Union.
The decision follows a series of cases in which patients have died or suffered poor care as a result of doctors speaking sub-standard English. The issue was brought to national attention three years ago when Dr Daniel Ubani, a German-trained GP on his first out-of-hours shift in Britain, killed David Gray, by giving him 10 times the normal dose of diamorphine.
In his speech to the Conservative Party conference today, Andrew Lansley will say that the Medical Act would be amended so that doctors must speak good English to practise in Britain.
"I am determined that doctors who come from overseas to work here in our NHS must not only have the right qualifications, but also the language skills to practise here. We will amend the Medical Act to ensure that any doctor from overseas who can't use a decent level of English is not able to treat NHS patients. This is not about discriminating; we've always appreciated how much overseas doctors and nurses give to our NHS. It is simply about our absolute commitment to put patients' safety first," the Health Secretary is expected to say, The Telegraph reports.
There are over 88,000 foreign-trained doctors registered to work in Britain, including 22,758 from Europe. They account for almost a third of the total.