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Home Industry News EU language testing laws ‘creating dental safety problems’

EU language testing laws ‘creating dental safety problems’

23rd August 2016

Patient safety may be being jeopardised due to inadequacies related to European laws for testing the clinical English language skills of dentists, doctors and nurses.

This is according to a new report from the Royal College of Surgeons, which has contested that the language skills of professionals from the European Economic Area (EEA) is not being put under enough scrutiny due to the current EU rules.

Recent General Medical Council data provided under a Freedom of Information request showed that 29 doctors from the EEA faced allegations relating to inadequate knowledge of English in 2014-2015, with four suspended or restricted as a result.

This number falls to ten allegations and no suspensions or restrictions among those from non-EEA countries, despite many more of the foreign professionals working in the UK being from within the EEA than outside it.

According to the Royal College of Surgeons, this could be because the current rules have no provisions in place to assess applicants' language skills in a specifically clinical setting, including their grasp on medical terms, ensuring consent and describing a procedure and its possible side effects.

Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "Currently, EU law makes it impossible to insist applicants demonstrate their English skills in a clinical setting. However, post-Brexit negotiations offer an excellent opportunity to change this and ensure that testing is vigorous enough to ensure patient safety."

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