DCSIMG

Call for tighter checks on foreign doctors

One doctor was suspended by NHS Tayside after scoring just 17 per cent in a test. Picture: PA

One doctor was suspended by NHS Tayside after scoring just 17 per cent in a test. Picture: PA

  • by RACHEL WATSON
 

A PLEA has been made for a review of the recruitment of foreign doctors in Scotland after one medic scored just 17 per cent in a test.

Polish doctor Wlodzimierz Szepielow, 67, was suspended by NHS Tayside in 2007 after one of his patients died following a seizure. He was later struck off by the General Medical Council and recently lost his claim against NHS Tayside for unfair dismissal.

Labour MP for Dundee West, Jim McGovern called for better checks to ensure that migrant staff employed by the NHS have the “necessary skills” to practise.

Mr McGovern said: “I was deeply shocked by the circumstances and worried about the future of patient trust in the NHS.

“With the majority of doctors struck off coming from overseas, we need to ensure that those migrating from abroad have the necessary skills to practise to the standard that we expect here in the UK.

“The Scottish Government must review recruitment standards in the Scottish NHS to ensure that patients have full confidence in the system.

“Migrant NHS workers do profound work across the UK and many are owed a debt of gratitude but the system failed in the case of Dr Szepielow.”

Margaret Watt, chairwoman for Scotland Patients Association, said: “I’m afraid that we don’t have enough checks and balances.

“There is no way that we can fully check the credentials of doctors that are coming in to work here, but we need to be more like America and Australia where staff have to be checked thoroughly and do training before they are put on the ground.

“We need to know where these people have trained and have access to their records.

“We have heard of people buying them online. I think there definitely needs to be more checks so we can see if things don’t stack up.”

As part of an investigation into Dr Szepielow, which spanned five years, one of Scotland’s top doctors, Professor Charles Warlow, said he “definitely did not measure up” to the standards expected of a UK consultant neurologist.

In 2012 Dr Szepielow sat a knowledge test in which he scored just 17.5 per cent. The required pass mark was 52 per cent. The doctor who was conducting the test claimed that it was the lowest mark he had ever seen in his 15 years’ experience.

Dr Szepielow failed to resuscitate a plastic dummy after he blocked the mannequin’s airway while trying to demonstrate CPR.

Last year, foreign-trained doctor Emmanuel Kingsley Labram was struck off for “reckless and deplorable misconduct” after he falsely told a patient that he had removed her brain tumour.

He convinced both the patient and her husband that she did not require further treatment by insisting she was cured for two years after he failed the operation at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in 2008.

At the end of last year, Dr Robert Heintjes from the Netherlands was removed from the UK medical register after he told a tribunal he no longer wished to practise medicine.

The Dutch surgeon was accused of lying to cover up his past after he was struck off in the Netherlands before securing a job in two Scottish hospitals.

He was also accused of incorrectly operating on a patient. Dr Heintjes had been struck off in his home country following a series of blunders between 2002 and 2007.

 

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