Nigel Farage, leader of the Britain’s right-wing UKIP party, has said that doctors and nurses employed by the National Health Service (NHS) shouldn’t be given jobs there unless they “speak English properly.”
“If people don’t speak English and they are dealing with English-speaking patients, surely they shouldn’t be employed in the first place,” Farage told Sky News’ Murnaghan program on Sunday. “Don’t we want to live in a country where we speak the same language?”
The UKIP leader said that “people out there are talking” about being treated by GPs who don’t speak their language, and declared it “scandalous” that the proportion of British-born doctors was not higher.
“And isn’t it scandalous that we are not training enough nurses and doctors in our own country?” he said. “The whole point about immigration, whether it impacts on the health service or elsewhere, is that we have to have proper integration.”
Farage’s call comes despite the fact that all doctors currently practicing medicine in the UK must pass an English language proficiency test before registering with the General Medical Council (GMC), according the NHS website. Farage insisted, however, that it was “fairly obvious” that if elected a UKIP government would re-test the 130,000 foreign-born NHS workers. An estimated 11 percent of current NHS employees are born outside of the UK.
Though Farage did not explicitly pledge to fire those staff with poor English already employed by the NHS, he did not specify what would happen to NHS employees who failed the proposed tests.
Farage also suggested that cuts would need to be made, especially to middle management, to keep NHS costs from surging. He said middle management roles had increased by 48 percent since 1997, and said he would be giving a series of speeches outlining UKIP’s plans.
In November, UKIP won a resounding second successive parliamentary by-election, rising through the ranks from a euroskeptic fringe group to a credible threat to the major British parties, and casting the outcome of the upcoming May general election into doubt.
Neither Prime Minister David Cameron nor Farage has explicitly ruled out a possible deal between the Conservatives and UKIP after the election.