Saturday 2 January 2016

More Than 70% of Doctors Struck Off In Britain Are Trained Abroad: Alarm over Patient Safety

'Dishonest': Egyptian-trained GP Dr Magdi Selim was struck off after writing to a dead patient's parents  trying to blame their daughter's death on another doctor at his practice
'Dishonest': Egyptian-trained GP Dr Magdi Selim was struck off after writing to a dead patient's parents trying to blame their daughter's death on another doctor at his practice
Three out of four doctors struck off the medical register in 2015 were trained abroad – the same figure as three years ago – despite promises to toughen up competency tests, MailOnline can reveal.
In 2012 the General Medical Council (GMC) vowed to act when it emerged those who qualified overseas were five times more likely to be struck off than British graduates.
But new figures obtained via a MailOnline Freedom of Information request show little has changed, renewing fears that foreign doctors are not up to scratch.
The investigation will add weight to growing concerns about patient safety, which has again come under the spotlight in recent weeks following a controversial change in EU rules.

A new system will allow thousands of European doctors and nurses to come to the UK to work without vital checks being carried out on their qualification and safety.
Critics have said the change shows a 'scandalous disregard' for patients – and regulators warn they will be unable to protect the public from unsafe health workers.
Meanwhile, the Mail's FOI revealed that, among doctors already working in Britain, 273 of the 374 struck off for misconduct or incompetence in the past five years were foreign-trained, while 66 of the 85 removed from the medical register in 2014 received their medical degree overseas.

So far this year 48 of the 68 doctors who have been struck off were trained abroad. With only one-third of the 270,000 doctors on the medical register trained outside the UK, it means those from overseas are still five times more likely to be struck off than their British qualified counterparts.
Three years ago, after similar figures were revealed, the GMC promised to introduce measures to ensure foreign doctors faced a more rigorous assessment.
But MailOnline understands plans for a new, national licensing exam were put on hold when the row erupted over junior doctors’ contracts. There is no timeline on its introduction, although as an interim measure the GMC has said a tougher assessment for international medical graduates will be launched next year.
Nevertheless, the chairman of the British International Doctors Association (BIDA) was adamant such a measure would not solve the problem.

Dr Chandra Kanneganti instead pointed the finger at a ‘subconscious’ belief among patients that foreign doctors have had inferior training to their UK counterparts.
He told MailOnline: 'It's not racism, it's just the impression people have. 
'Also, you often get many different doctors treating a patient, so if a mistake happens an Asian doctor may get singled out for complaint just because of this subconscious bias [that he or she is not as well qualified].'
Dr Kanneganti added: 'It's not about new doctors arriving in the UK because there aren't any coming. Between 2011 and 2014 the number of doctors coming from India alone dropped by 70 per cent because visa rules were made stricter.


Under new EU rules, European doctors, nurses and midwives will be issued electronic 'passports'
Under new EU rules, European doctors, nurses and midwives will be issued electronic 'passports'
Earlier this month it was announced that, under new EU rules, European doctors and nurses will be handed electronic 'passports' which automatically enable them to practise in hospitals and GP surgeries in Britain.
The passports will be issued to nurses, midwives and some other staff from January 1, and to doctors in two years.
It means UK regulators will have to give applicants licences to practise without first checking they have the necessary qualifications and have not lied on forms or been suspended.
Almost 11,000 European doctors and nurses were granted permission to work in the NHS last year and numbers are steadily rising because the health service is so understaffed.
But there are already concerns about existing EU rules which prevent them being tested on speaking English because this could impede their 'freedom of movement' rights.
Regulators can only request certificates stating EU workers have already passed English tests – whereas those applying from elsewhere in the world face rigorous exams.
Experts say the new passports – European Professional Cards – will jeopardise patient safety even further.
Rory Gray, whose 70-year-old father David died at the hands of Daniel Ubani, a German GP with poor English and limited medical knowledge, said: 'It is a scandalous disregard for people's lives... Instead of trying to strengthen the checks necessary to protect patients, the EU has made them even more weak and non-existent.'
Niall Dickson, of doctors' regulator the General Medical Council, said the new rules 'would further jeopardise our ability to protect patients'. 
A GP in Romania, for example, will apply via Romanian authorities, who will have just two months to verify he genuinely has the training and experience he claims to have – and that this is sufficient for the UK.
They should check whether he has been suspended for poor care or other wrongdoing, but there is no legal requirement to this. If the deadline is missed, doctors and nurses will be issued a passport automatically.
'It's not people coming the last three years, it's those who have been practising here a while [who are being struck off].'
But despite suggesting the problem was linked to more experienced doctors rather than newly-trained ones, Dr Kanneganti insisted a regular competence test was not necessary.
He said: 'There are already procedures in place to identify knowledge gaps and address them so I don't think there needs to be blanket competency tests every ten years.'
The challenge for the BIDA and the GMC, Dr Kanneganti believes, is demonstrating to the public that foreign-trained doctors are as good as British doctors. 
'We have the same skills and knowledge. It's about showing patients there is no difference in the treatment they receive, regardless of a doctor's race and colour,' he said.
BIDA’s vice-chairman agreed about ‘subconscious bias’ but Dr Umesh Prabhu, who trained in India, attributed it to ‘white decision-makers’ in the health service and branded the NHS ‘institutionally racist’.
‘There are other complex reasons, like poor training, cultural differences, communication problems, poor support for BME doctors at early stages and poor induction,’ he added.
When asked whether the figures showed the GMC had failed in its attempts to address the problem, Roger Goss of campaign group Patient Concern told MailOnline 'the figures speak for themselves'.
To practise in the UK, doctors currently have to pass exams testing their medical knowledge and English language skills.
But a study published last year concluded that the pass mark was set too low – and insisted that foreign doctors who pass are not up to the same standard as newly-trained doctors in Britain.
Researchers at University College London and the University of Cambridge found that international graduates got substantially lower marks in exams for would-be GPs and physicians.
Foreign doctors must pass an English language test and the GMC's Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test, designed to ensure that overseas doctors demonstrate the same level of medical knowledge and clinical skills as UK graduates who have completed their first foundation training year.
Researchers said that raising the exam pass mark 'considerably' – by up to 20 per cent – would ensure both sets of doctors were of a similar standard.
But they also warned this would cut the pass rate and could cause a shortage of candidates for the NHS, which is heavily reliant on foreign medical staff.
Around one in three doctors registered with the GMC qualified in other countries, with 25 per cent obtaining their medical degree from outside the European Economic Area. 
Earlier this year a study revealed that male doctors are two-and-a-half times more likely to be sued for medical negligence or face being struck off than their women peers.
It also showed the GMC had seen a 64 per cent increase in complaints between 2010 and 2013. 
Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: ‘Doctors coming to the UK from overseas make a huge contribution to our health service and the vast majority provide safe and compassionate care for their patients. 
'It's important that these doctors are given the support to enable them to adapt to UK practice and it is fair to say that in the past not enough has been done to help them. 
'However in the small number of cases where doctors fall short of our standards it is right that we take action to protect patients, as these figures show that we do. 


  1. the British indigenes do not like to study,and practice medicine or healthcare,so you have to the Cubans they study and can export medical,healthcare professionals is also a brain drain loss to those countries abroad,as they lose their great highly trained skilled professional,more like transport of medical products and services.

  2. Whoever wrote this is racist, all I can say at this point be ashamed you ungrateful person for different doctors around the world save more lives then you could ever