London: From April, foreign doctors wanting to treat patients in UK hospitals run by the National Health Service will have to prove they have the "necessary level" of English language skills, the government said.
From April there will be a legal duty to ensure a doctor`s English is up to scratch before they are employed, the BBC reported.
Foreign doctors will have to prove they can speak a "necessary level of English" before they are allowed to treat patients in hospitals or in general practitioner (GP) surgeries, the report quoted the Department of Health as saying.
Concerns were raised after a German doctor, Dr Daniel Ubani, gave a patient a fatal overdose on his first and only shift in the UK. He had earlier been rejected for work because of poor English skills.
From April, there will be a national list of GPs to prevent doctors being rejected in one part of the country and then cropping up somewhere else. GPs will have to prove their language skills before being put on the list.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said the measures were about protecting patients, who "should be able to understand and be understood by their doctor if we are to give them the best care they deserve".
"These new checks will ensure that all doctors who want to work in the NHS can speak proficient English and to prevent those who can`t from treating patients," he said.
The country with the biggest single number of doctors who have been removed or suspended from the medical register, was India (123), followed by Nigeria and Egypt (33 each) and Pakistan (32), the Telegraph had reported in December last year.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said tighter rules would "strengthen patient safety".
"Our position is clear - patients must be confident that the doctor who treats them has the right communications skills to do the job.
"We have been working hard for some time to close this loophole in UK legislation which has caused so much concern to patients and their families and we are delighted that the government has decided to act," Dickson said.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "New language checks for doctors are welcome, and long overdue.