“The Health Select Committee said it is essential that doctors can communicate properly with their patients.”
Thank you. That clears up a point that has had scholars arguing for decades. There are some of course who say that doctors are so clever they don’t need to speak to their patients at all, or indeed even see them in the case of bird flu. But now we know.
However, it is still unclear whether the BMA can INSIST that doctors actually speak English. Summarising this into terms that even a pleb should be able to understand (well, I understand it so it should be OK) the situation seems therefore to be that:
A) Being able to talk the same language as your patient is essential.
B) We don’t know if we have the right to insist on this, presumably because we are no longer a sovereign country and can’t make our own laws.
So there you have it; nobody knows if we have the right to insist on something deemed essential. Clearly, this awaits a decision from the European Court of Human Rights, since obliging an imported doctor to speak English is a prima facie case of abusing his or her human rights.
But perhaps Britain can get an opt out which Labour can then give up when it is next in power?
However, there is a big problem with this “essential communication” thing. Many British people don’t actually speak English, so should doctors be forced to learn a multitude of other languages? After all, if Gloucestershire Council sees fit to print census advice leaflets in fifty-six languages the least you can expect our doctors to do is to learn say, a dozen or so languages to make sure they can communicate? If all the doctors within a hospital or practice learn a dozen different languages they should of course be able to cover most situations.
This is very good news for language teachers, especially of Urdu, Arabic, Swahili and so on …..