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Hundreds of overseas doctors “not properly checked”

14 October 2010

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Fewer than one in four overseas doctors registered to work in the NHS has been checked for competency and language skills, new figures suggest.

According to the data, hundreds of overseas doctors have not been properly verified despite outrage over the case of Dr Daniel Ubani, a German GP who killed a pensioner in his care.

A number of NHS trusts in England have no accurate record of whether a doctor has been checked, the investigation by Pulse newspaper found.

Dr Ubani was accepted by the NHS in Cornwall and then Cambridgeshire, despite being refused work in West Yorkshire because of his poor English. David Gray died after he was given 10 times the normal dosage of diamorphine by Dr Ubani, who later admitted being confused by the drug.

Dr Ubani still works in Germany but was struck off the UK’s medical register earlier this year.

The survey of records from more than 100 primary care trusts (PCTs) shows hundreds of foreign doctors are included on “performers lists” without having been checked.

A total of 108 PCTs responded to questions from Pulse following a Freedom of Information Act request. Of 35 PCTs, just 23% of EU doctors on performers lists had undergone language tests and more than 300 had not. Of the 20 PCTs that were able to provide details about tests on clinical competence, just 17% of doctors had undergone tests.

But 74 of the trusts who responded admitted they did not collect data on whether doctors had been checked.

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