A Hungarian doctor who injected a four-year-old with a potentially lethal dose of acid because he could not read the label has claimed a requirement to learn English at his age is discrimination.
Dr Gyorgy Rakoczy, 65, argued that he was being put at a disadvantage because older people find it harder to learn new languages.
The consultant paediatric surgeon was initially suspended in 2012 after he wrongly injected the unnamed boy with a potentially lethal amount of carbolic acid when he misread a label in an incident three years earlier.
The boy was left with 'catastrophic' internal injuries and required a colostomy bag, having originally been admitted for a suspected haemorrhoid.
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He required over 30 corrective operations, including the removal of a section of his bowel.
Despite the incident, Rakoczy returned to work at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital but he later failed English language tests in reading, writing, listening and speaking and was reported to the General Medical Council over concerns about his grasp of the language.
At a Medical Practitioners Tribunal in 2019 he was placed under conditional registration for a year and told to successfully complete an English language assessment course.
But at a review hearing, having still not passed a test, Dr Rakoczy argued it is harder for people aged 60 and over to pass language exams and said he was being discriminated against.
The doctor took another test earlier this year, but again did not pass bringing the total of failed tests to six, the panel heard.
And he had given up attending English lessons, potentially putting patients at risk.
"(He) has taken and failed English tests six times, by two different examining bodies, on his own evidence," the panel concluded. "Dr Rakoczy has consistently asserted that his age is a contributing factor in his failure to pass the English language tests.
"He has complained to the GMC and to this effect. Neither this Tribunal nor the previous Tribunal found this submission persuasive.
"To be clear, this Tribunal does not consider that a doctor's age is an acceptable reason for being allowed to practise unrestricted without the requisite skills in the English Language.
"Dr Rakoczy stopped his English studies until just before his most recent failed attempt to pass (the test), yet he still asserted that he should be allowed to practise without any restriction.
"It was of the view that a lack of English language skills at the required standard could present a risk to patient safety.
"Further, the Tribunal considered that an ordinary and well informed member of the public would be surprised to learn that a doctor who had failed the English language tests had not been found to be impaired. "
The tribunal determined that Dr Rakoczy fitness to practice is still impaired due to his lack of knowledge of the English language but allowed him to continue to work with conditions for 12 months.