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Polish NHS midwife is suspended because she can’t understand English

Barbara Fall, 35, was employed as a maternity support worker at Burnley General Teaching Hospital in June 2016

A Polish NHS midwife has been suspended without delivering a single baby because she cannot understand English. 

Barbara Fall, 35, was employed as a maternity support worker at Burnley General Teaching Hospital in June 2016.

She was promoted to midwife but failed to pass a transition period because she couldn’t communicate with patients and was demoted. 

Mrs Fall resigned and then took her bosses to a tribunal, complaining of constructive dismissal – but her case was panned by a Nursing & Midwifery Council panel which banned her from practising for 12 months.

If Mrs Fall improves her English to an acceptable level in this time, she will be allowed to practise again.

Critics have slammed the NHS for wasting taxpayers’ money on training someone who can’t talk to patients. 

Conservative MP Phil Davies told the Sunday Express: ‘It is a complete farce. The fact the tribunal hearing had to be conducted in Polish says everything about the case.

‘It has been a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and shows how crucial it is to have a robust English language test. Anyone who cannot pass it should not be working in the NHS.’

MP Andrew Bridgen added: ‘The lesson to learn is that people working in the NHS should pass the English test before we start investing in further training.’

Mrs Fall was promoted to midwife but failed to pass a transition period because she couldn't communicate with patients and was demoted

Mrs Fall was promoted to midwife but failed to pass a transition period because she couldn’t communicate with patients and was demoted

Mrs Fall took the International English Language Testing System for nurses in January. She scored four out of ten for understanding, five in reading and writing and seven – the minimum required – in speaking only.

The test did not apply to EU nationals when she first applied to work in the UK. 

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said in a statement: ‘Patient safety is, and always will be, our priority.

‘A good command of the English language is essential for safe, personal and effective care. In this case, the person never worked here unsupervised as a midwife. She carried out the role of a support worker while she sought to improve her English.’

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said in a statement: 'Patient safety is, and always will be, our priority.' Pictured: Burnley Hospital

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said in a statement: ‘Patient safety is, and always will be, our priority.’ Pictured: Burnley Hospital

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