Reader Letter: NHS staff must speak English

PUBLISHED: 14:39 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:51 19 November 2018

General Views of The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

General Views of The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

One reader is concerned about the welfare of patients if NHS staff can’t speak English fluently. What do you think?

In recent years both my family and myself have needed more medical treatment including stays in hospital.

I have been amazed and humbled by the sheer hard work and dedication of medical staff, both British and those from abroad.

However, two or three years ago, I learned that those coming from abroad with inadequate knowledge of the English language had been offered English-language tutoring at the local hospital.

I was alarmed to learn that some had not bothered to turn up for lessons. Arranging tutors for these lessons was wasted, with a lack of class numbers and precious finance wasted.

Others like myself were concerned that lack of the ability to speak English could reduce, severely, contact with patients – and create difficulty in administering correct drug doses.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reported that one such nurse has now been struck off the NMC list as she had made no attempt to learn English.

The NMC ruling is now that foreign nurses need to complete English language tests or have a nursing qualification which was taught in English (EN, November 8) to obtain employment at hospitals.

Do you agree with our reader? Let us know in the comments below or write to us at

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