The General Medical Council recently said that existing European rules, banning its testing of GPs’ language skills, represent a risk to patient safety after reports emerged that some doctors are unable to communicate in English.

With growing awareness of professional misconduct in the medical sector and GMC plans to introduce changes to the way it treats the fitness to practice impairment, it’s time for medical recruitment to increase its focus on compliance, according to medical recruiter, Your World.

Tony Moss, Managing Director of Your World says: “The problems that have arisen from recruiting EU citizens who are unable to communicate in English and have little knowledge of UK hospital procedures, are now spreading from being an issue surrounding doctors into the nursing profession.”

Poor English is not the only issue affecting the medical profession. Reports have indicated that bogus doctors from overseas can enter the NHS by showing fake certificates or ID, and some are even capable of hiding suspensions in their home countries due to a lack of standard checks. Even qualified doctors from other countries can struggle to carry out procedures that are standard in Britain, due to the differences in training. Tony Moss believes that EU directives need to take language and cultural gaps into account.

“The problem lies with lenient rules and lack of prevention plans” says Moss. “Recruiters and the NHS should not be afraid to say no to those who are unprepared for the fast-paced NHS environment or to decline EU professionals whose standard of English is not high enough. If they don’t perform enough security checks they could be employing unprepared or even unqualified medical staff who will be responsible for people’s lives. Medical institutions and recruiters alike should be taking greater steps in ensuring that their candidates are up to par.”

Your World has its own dedicated compliance teams in both the UK and Australia, as well as having a strict vetting procedure, regular training courses and continuing professional development for candidates. Moss adds “We ensure that our compliance and recruitment teams check everyone’s qualifications, experience and references throughout the registration process and beyond.”

The GMC EU directives will be reviewed in 2012 and the GMC is consulting separately on major changes to the way fitness to practice cases are dealt with at the end of an investigation.