People seeking UK visas to come to Britain to work in the health service will be required to have a decent standard of spoken English if Labour wins the General Election.
Party leader Ed Miliband said that all new immigrants to the UK should be able to speak English but noted it was particularly important for those caring for patients, such as doctors, paramedics and nurses.
Mr Miliband said: “It’s something we should expect from everyone who comes here and it’s especially important that people who work in public services in public-facing roles should be required to speak English.”
He said that if Labour was elected on May 7, it would pass laws to make sure that all health workers from overseas had a sufficiently high standard of English and regulators would be put in place to ensure the rules were being adhered to.
According to figures from the General Medical Council, just over 36 per cent of doctors, almost 98,000, currently registered to work in the UK were born abroad. Of these, 34,120 are specialist doctors.
Mr Miliband said: “I will never demean or devalue their contribution to our country, but it is vital that people who come to fill those roles don’t just have the right medical skills but can communicate with those for whom they care.”
He also said that a Labour government would prevent immigrants from claiming benefits in Britain for at least two years after their arrival and that there would be a ban on paying child benefit and child tax credit for children who were not living in the UK.