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Two EU doctors with poor English disciplined under new language rules

Italian doctor suspended and Polish doctor must work under supervision

Mark Gould

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Two doctors, one Polish and one Italian, have become the first to face disciplinary action under new laws that require those practising medicine in the UK to speak satisfactory English.

The two men were disciplined under powers allowing the medical regulator to check doctors' English language skills which came into force in June 2014. Previously, only doctors from outside Europe could have their language skills tested by the GMC.

Italian Dr Alessandro Teppa has been suspended from practice for at least nine months, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) has ruled.

And Polish doctor Tomasz Fryzlewicz, who failed language tests three times, can now only work under strict supervision.

Dr Teppa qualified in 1998 in Italy and was granted a licence to practise in the UK in 2012.

He failed an English assessment two years later and was put under an interim suspension order that year.

In a document, the tribunal panel said the standard of his English was currently "insufficient to support safe and effective medical practice in this country". He told the panel he had since been taking English language lessons at his home in Italy. He must return for a further hearing in the next nine months.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: "This doctor should not be able to practise in the UK again until he can demonstrate he is able to communicate effectively."

Dr Tomasz Fryzlewicz, who qualified in Poland and has held a licence to practise in the UK for the last nine years, failed English language assessments in October 2014, December 2014 and again in February 2015.

The panel ruled he must only work under direct supervision for the next year and must pass an English language assessment within 12 months.

But Mr Dickson said there should have been tougher sanctions. "We are disappointed that the MPTS panel did not suspend Dr Fryzlewicz as we had requested but we are satisfied that the panel has placed sufficient conditions on his clinical practice to make sure that patients will be protected," he said.

Dr Fryzlewicz was previously employed as a heart specialist at various hospitals, including the Royal Stoke University Hospital, the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex and the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield.

Some colleagues who worked with Dr Fryzlewicz said they weren't always sure he understood what they said. However other colleagues and patients wrote to the panel in support of the doctor's command of English.

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