Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Do you speak Swedish?

It's not just UKIP who are concerned about lack of language skills from doctors from other EU countries. A report on Swedish TV has identified more than half of Sweden’s county councils, which are responsible for runningthe country’s health care system, are encountering problems with doctors from other EU Countries who lack sufficient command of the Swedish language.

The TV show highlighted the case of a Swedish man who visited a local clinic to have doctors examine a pain in his foot, he was sent home with a prescription for heavy sedatives because of miscommunication with the doctor.

According to the Swedish National Board of Health they are concerned that if a doctor can’t master the Swedish language it can, in the worst case, endanger patient safety. However, the Board is powerless to reduce the prevalence of doctors with poor language skills in the Swedish health care system because doctors from other EU countries don’t need to take a language test in order to receive a license to practice in Sweden.

In one way it's nice to know the UK is not alone with its problems about Doctors who can't speak our language. Of course closing our doors to Doctors (and nurses, architects, plumbers, skilled people of all kinds) from Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and other Commonwealth Countries who speak English as a native tongue has made our problem worse. I don't know how many countries around the world apart from Sweden have Swedish as their first language? Possibly not all that many?

Some research on Wikipedia (that trusty reference source)uncovered that Swedish is the first language for the overwhelming majority of roughly eight million Swedish-born citizens. Although given the status of an official language of the European Union and used in Swedish local and state government and most of the educational system, Swedish is not legally recognized as an official language in most of Sweden itself, possibly because there are over 20 different dialects. A bill in the Swedish Parliament was proposed in 2005 that would have made Swedish an official language, but it failed to pass!

1 comment:

  1. It's a scary world Steve. I remember a joky thing doing the rounds some time ago about the death of commonsense, sadly it has died it seems.