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UK school rolls out ESL for foreign doctors

A new language training course is being launched to prepare overseas doctors to communicate effectively in English in a hospital environment.

"Without recruiting talented individuals from overseas, the NHS may well grind to a halt"

The English for Medical Professionals course, which was piloted successfully in Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust last month, will aim to equip doctors with the practical communication skills to speak with their patients and colleagues.

“There are all sorts of barriers to effective communication, between a non-native speaking doctor and a patient in the UK”

The course is delivered by The London School of English, which is also working in partnership with Remedium, a specialist medical recruitment consultancy, to train overseas doctors through distance learning to reach an IELTS score of 7.5 needed to practise as a doctor in the UK.

Martin McDonald, Director of Sales and Marketing at The London School of English, said that the highly practical skills taught on the course could help increase the retention rate of doctors in NHS hospitals.

“Whilst IELTS teaches people how to pass an examination, it doesn’t reflect the actual practical communication skills that somebody needs to be able to function effectively in a hospital environment,” he told The PIE News.

“There are cross cultural elements to that, there are regional accent issues, there are all sorts of barriers to effective communication, between a non-native speaking doctor and a patient in the UK.”

Developed in partnership with Ros Wright, a leading author in Medical English, and NHS consultant physician, Joe Wang, the course covers areas including negotiating treatment, breaking bad news to patients and talking to children.

McDonald emphasised the demand for overseas doctors in the NHS, particularly due to the current skills shortage the health service is facing.

“If you spent any time in the NHS you’ll realise that there are a lot of dedicated and talented people working very hard under challenging circumstances.”

He continued: “Without recruiting talented individuals from overseas, the NHS may well grind to a halt, but these individuals can only reach their full potential if they have the practical communication skills and tools at their disposal.”

Classes are set to begin at The London School of English’s Holland Park Gardens campus next month, but are also offered in a modular format direct to NHS trusts in the UK and on request to individuals or institutions overseas.

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