Thursday, 5 April 2012

EC challenges Mail over English tests for health workers

On 31 March, the Mail published an article by John Naish under the headline: 'The doctor and nurses putting lives at risk because they can't speak English'.

It included this passage:

Yet, far from tackling this dangerous situation, the European Union is set to reinforce rules which ban English tests for doctors and nurses from the EU before they are allowed to work here, branding it a ‘restraint of free movement’ of workers.

The European directive, currently being debated in Brussels, insists that British employers can only test medics from Europe after their poor English has endangered patient care, flagging ‘serious and concrete doubt about the professional’s sufficient language knowledge’.

It concluded:

Sadly, if the EU gets its way, it’s clear we cannot be sure that hospital staff will speak decent conversational English, let alone the sort of complex technical terminology that can save lives, or at the very least, not put them in danger.

This led the EC Representative in the UK to write a letter to the Mail:

Contrary to Paul Naish’s article in the Mail on 31 March, there is nothing in EU law that prevents the UK from checking the language skills of doctors and nurses from elsewhere in the EU. There is no “new Brussels Directive against language checks”. Instead, proposed revisions to EU rules will make even clearer that all EU-qualified health professionals can be subject to checks before they take up a post. Far from EU law “taking precedence” over the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans to reinforce such checks, the European Commission has welcomed those plans.

Mark English, Head of Media

The Mail did publish this letter, in slightly edited form - but only on page 83. It has not been added to the end of the online article.

The EC in the UK adds:

The newspaper did not contact the European Commission before publication.

1 comment:

  1. I honestly despair at the poor journalism often displayed by the tabloid press in this country. The even more depressing thing is I know plenty of people who believe this kind of shit without question.

    Great blog! Keep up the good work.


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