Hospital and GP surgery doctors could be struck off the medical register if their English-speaking language skills aren't up to scratch.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley is to put the plans to consultation today (Wednesday) which will see doctors unable to practice if they fall short of new rules.

Those that cannot meet certain language requirements will also be unable to practice in the first place, Mr Lansley will say, according to

Around 500 "responsible officers" from hospitals and other organisations will be tasked with checking up on doctors' language ability, adds The Press Association. The move could see a whole raft of non-native speakers taking personal training courses in English just to remain employed.

At present, doctors can only be fired if their language skills are so weak that they lead to the harm of a patient, but Mr Lansley says this is not enough.

"Clearly if a doctor can't speak proper English then they won't be able to communicate effectively with their patients. It can also lead to situations where doctors put patients' safety at risk," says Mr Lansley.

"We need to bring some common sense back and ensure that if a doctor is judged not to have the language skills to be able to work properly or safely in the NHS that they can be suspended or removed from the register."

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