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Patients without health insurance put at risk by NHS nurses who can't speak English

Published on 09/09/2011

NHS nurses who can’t speak English may put patients without private health insurance in danger, Lord Winston has warned.

Last October the strict competence checks, including checks on language, were scrapped altogether. Since then, the number of Eastern European nurses registering to work in Britain has doubled.

New EU laws now prevent the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) from testing nurses coming in from European countries on their clinical skills or their grasp of the language, so as not to restrict ‘free movement of labour’. This rule also applies to doctors.

In the past 5 months, 1500 new nurses have arrived to work in Britain. Some countries, like France, bend the rules by testing their candidates by local health boards instead of at a national level.

Lord Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London, told the House of Lords that the nurses had been trained in a ‘completely different way’ to British nurses.

He pointed out that some nurses do not understand fundamental phrases like ‘nil by mouth’, which means no fluid or food should be given to the patient orally. He warned that these poor communication skills are becoming widespread across the NHS.

The General Medical Council said that around 10 per cent of licensed doctors in the UK were from the European Economic Area, and a GMC spokesman recalled a foreign doctor’s husband contacting the council because she could not speak English herself.

‘That communication between the patient and the professional is of vital importance,’ Lord Winston said. ‘We run the risk of losing it with this issue of nurses who can’t speak the English language.’

People with private health insurance will be guaranteed treatment in a private hospital of their choice, which a specialist of their choice. Compare health insurance quotes online with ActiveQuote now to get peace of mind about your future treatment.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  NHS and Hospitals
Patients without health insurance put at risk by NHS nurses who can't speak EnglishNHS nurses who can’t speak English may put patients without private health insurance in danger, Lord Winston has warned. Last October the    tweet it on twittershare with your friends on Facebookshare with your friends on MySpaceBlog it on your LinkedIn profile

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