CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed tougher language checks on European doctors who want to work in the UK.

From April, around 220 senior doctors in England will be made legally responsible for checking the language and communications skills of EU medics coming to work in the UK.

The decision by the General Medical Council comes more than five years after a German doctor accidentally killed a patient as an out-of-hours GP, exposing failures within the NHS to satisfactorily test medics' linguistic ability before they treated patients.

Russ McLean, chairman of Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “This is great news. I hear on a daily basis from patients who have great difficulty communicating with doctors who are not from the UK.”

The German GP, Daniel Ubani, gave Cambridgeshire patient David Gray a fatal overdose on his first and only shift in the UK in 2008, after confusing two drugs.

He had previously been rejected for work because of poor English skills.

Dr David Wrigley, who represents Lancashire doctors on the British Medical Association, said: “This decision by the GMC is to be welcomed.

“Patients must have confidence that doctors treating them have a high standard of English and in particular that they understand medical terms and drug names.”