A dental health charity is joining the Royal College of Surgeons in calling for improved patient protection through language testing.
The Oral Health Foundation has given its support to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) following the publication this week of data that suggests EU rules on language testing of health staff coming from Europe could potentially be putting UK patients at risk.
The RCS highlight the disproportionate number of complaints from UK patients due to allegations arising from poor communication with dentists originally from the European Economic Area (EEA).
The RCS is concerned that patient safety is in jeopardy due to insufficient testing of the clinical English language skills of dentists coming to work in the UK from the EEA.
They believe the current EU rules, which govern this, are currently inadequate and would like the Government to use the ongoing post-Brexit negotiations to improve the situation.
Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, says: ‘Any way which we can improve the protection and service received by patients in the UK is undoubtedly a positive step.
‘There are many excellent dental professionals coming to work in the UK from the EEA but some are hindered by an initial misunderstanding of clinical English language skills which could lead to communication issues and misinformation in the dentist/patient relationship.
‘These could develop into more serious problems if they are allowed to propagate and I support the RCS in their call for discussion about this while there is the opportunity for change following the recent referendum result.
‘Enabling better communication between dental professionals from the EEA and patients throughout the healthcare system is important as without their input the NHS would struggle to provide the level of care they need to.
‘It important that the Government finds a compromise to ensure that dental professionals from the EEA can continue to work within the NHS after we have the left the European Union; but which also allows UK regulators to assess their practical language skills to work the appropriate level.’
Dentists and their teams are regulated by the General Dental Council — www.gdc-uk.org/ — and have to abide by certain Standards. If they fail, they can be struck off the register and held to account.
To read the full statement from the RCS regarding the proposed testing of clinical language skills of health professionals coming to work in the UK from the EEA visit https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/news/new-data-shows-eu-rules-on-language-testing-of-health-staff-putting-patients-at-risk/.
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