Friday, June 24, 2011

Medecin sans English?

I guess everybody in the UK must know of the surgeon who shouted at CamerClegg and their TV crew for not following hospital procedures as regards good hygiene practice. That surgeon is now on “indefinite leave” – suspicious, suspicious. I also read somewhere that the surgeon had "created a controversy" a few years ago when he complained about foreign nurses who could not understand him. Nobody mentioned the word “racist”, as far as I’m aware, but the suggestion was very much there in the way the word “controversy” was bandied about.

I don’t understand what was so controversial about what he said. If you ask me, he was making a perfectly valid point. He did not question their professionalism or basic competence – his complaint was about the very wide gap in communication. What’s the point having foreign nurses, however qualified or sympathetic they are, if they are unable to communicate competently in English, unable to understand what the doctors/surgeons/patients want of them, and unable to ask or answer questions? At the very least, they should be able to speak/understand the local language. Do the racism-mongers honestly not see any potential for disaster during an operation, say, if the surgeon’s instructions are misunderstood by the nurses, or patients are unable to get across to them the specifics of any discomfort/pain they feel?

Any foreign staff – doctors and nurses both – should have to be competent in spoken and written English if they are to work in this country. Knowing other languages would definitely be a bonus, but I personally think English is an absolute must. I just can’t imagine any logical objections to this. Can you?


Anu said...

Loved your "Confession" and "Woes" - keep them coming - you have a loyal reader in me!

And Yes Yes Yes - if you live/work in a country where the primary language is English - you jolly well communicate well in that language.

And along similar lines - you better adapt to that country's culture and way of life - why do you expect that country to made exceptions for you???

shyam said...

AbsoLUTELY! If you move to another country, how can you expect its citizens to adopt your ways? I find it such an arrogant attitude!

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

I agree with you. I can't tell you how many doctors I've encountered in New York City and Long Island, NY with accents so heavy I can't understand them. With something as serious as medicine, good communication is essential.