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How good is your doctor's English

How good is your doctor's English?

But despite the obvious dangers of a foreign doctor treating a patient in the UK without being able to speak good English, a German locum working in the UK accidentally killed a pensioner with a lethal overdose of morphine as long ago as 2008 after his poor command of the language led to him becoming confused about the dosage.

The tragedy prompted warnings from the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) that patients’ safety was at risk under the system then in place and that EU doctors should face the same checks as those from other parts of the world.

Yet it was only last year that the GMC were legally able to order medics to pass special English language tests under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to help make patient care safer.

This week the Medical Tribunal Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester was told a doctor from Poland failed an English language test THREE times in just five months whilst working in the NHS.

Dr Tomasz Fryzlewicz, 56, who had moved to Britain in 2006 from Krakow was tested on his speaking, listening, reading and writing - yet only scored 5.5, below the minimum pass rate of 7.5. He re-sat the test twice - but failed on both occasions notching up 5.5 again on the third exam.

During that time Fryzlewicz  was fired from two different hospitals due tor concerns about his language skills before being offered a post in cardiology at a third. That offer fell through after he sent various emails in broken English in which wrote of sending ''a massage'' and adding: ''I still don't get answer and nobody contact with me. Once more I sent this information and please contact with me.''

Following a tribunal, Fryzlewicz, from Plymouth, became the first medic in the UK to be found guilty of disciplinary charges relating to his English under the new regulations. A fitness to practise panel said his limited command of the language posed as a ''potential risk'' to patients.

According to recent figures since the new regulations under IELTS were introduced, nearly half of all EU doctors who sought work in the UK in the past year were turned away because they failed to prove their English was good enough.

In all, 779 doctors – 45% of those who applied to practise medicine in the UK – did not give evidence of their language skills to the GMC and were therefore refused a licence to practise, between 25 June 2014 and 6 July this year.

Fryzlewicz himself denied wrongoing claiming his English tests results were ''too low and not accurate'' and that they had been ''manipulated'' by the GMC.

In broken English he told the hearing: ''Maybe sometimes I speak Polish because it is a great pleasure for me – but every day I read newspapers and books and every day to my home the Wall Street Journal comes and every day I read that so it means I can have contact with the English language. 'In my opinion it is evidence this exam does not give the true knowledge of English. In my opinion it is a bad law, an anti-freedom law.''

Cavendish Press' coverage of his case featured in The Daily Mail, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. If you have a story please contact us on 0161 237 1066 or email [email protected] We'd like to hear from you.