Advising with empathy and experience

Doctor suspended for language failings.


An Italian doctor has been suspended from practising medicine in the UK after failing English language tests.

Dr Alessandro Teppa is among the first EU doctors to face disciplinary action over language skills following a change in the law in 2014.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) ruled that his suspension will last at least nine months. 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. The tribunal panel said his standard of English was "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.

A separate case involved a second doctor, Dr Tomasz Fryzlewicz, who qualified in Poland and has held a licence to practise in the UK for the last nine years.

He failed English language assessments in October 2014, December 2014 and again in February 2015. The panel ruled he must work only under direct supervision for the next year and must pass an English language assessment within 12 months.

But General Medical Council chief executive, Mr Niall Dickson, said: "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."

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 of his colleagues reported that they weren't always sure that he understood what they said.

The risk of a doctor not being fluent in English was highlighted by a lethal mistake made by a German doctor, Dr Daniel Ubani, doing an out-of-hours shift who gave a lethal dose of a painkiller to patient David Gray in 2008.