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The vast majority of the 71 responses received support proposals to allow these regulators the power to apply language controls, where appropriate, to healthcare professionals, to ensure they have a sufficient knowledge of the English language to practise safely in the UK.
We therefore plan to continue with the proposed changes, subject to Parliamentary approval. The Order will be laid in Parliament shortly.
The 4 UK Health Departments (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) want to amend legislation to protect patients from risk associated with the poor English language skills of a minority of health care professionals.
The law currently allows language checks on overseas non-European applicants and on doctors from the European economic area.
Proposed changes will allow the Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Dental Council, General Pharmaceutical Council and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland to put in place systems for carrying out proportionate language controls on European applicants and for taking fitness to practise action where there are concerns about the English language skills of professionals who are already in practice. The changes will apply to nurses, midwives, dentists, dental care professionals, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.