Letters to the chief editor of "The Daily Mail"

With regard to two recent publications concerning the Bulgarian community in the UK, the Embassy of Bulgaria and the Association of Bulgarian Healthcare Professionals in UK have sent the following messages to the chief editor of ”The Daily Mail”:

Mr. Paul Dacre
The Daily Mail
Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Str.
London W8 5TT
14 September 2011

Dear Editor,

I was deeply impressed by the way my country has been presented in two recent articles in your paper, namely: “Crime by EU migrants trebles – and we still can’t throw them out”, published on September 8th, and “Nurses who can’t speak English put patients in danger: Lord Winston’s stark warning over NHS workers from Romania and Bulgaria”, published September 10th.

I am afraid that the repeated mentioning of Bulgaria in connection with negative trends and events in the UK contradicts the facts and statistics, supplied by British authorities themselves and creates an unbalanced picture about the Bulgarian community in the UK. I had difficulty finding references to specific cases of misdemeanor or incompetence by Bulgarian nationals in your article from 10th  of September that might justify its headline. Furthermore, the quoted Lord Winston's words are taken out of the context of his speech delivered in the House of Lords, and none of the examples given of nurses who have a poor command of English can serve as proof that they were actually Bulgarian.

I was even more surprised to find out that your article from 8th September, linking the increase of criminality in the UK with EU citizens, leaves the impression that Bulgarians are the main cause for this negative tendency. Against the background of such a suggestion, I failed to see, in the table accompanying the article, the name of Bulgaria   among the top ten EU member states, citizens of which have been convicted in the UK.

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that we appreciate your opinions and I hope that these articles did not reflect your attitude towards my country.

Your sincerely,

Valentina Alexandrova
Press and Culture Affairs
Bulgarian Embassy
186-188 Queens Gate
London SW7 5HL
Fax: 020 7584 4948

Association of Bulgarian Healthcare Professionals in UK

25 September, 2011

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: “Nurses who can’t speak English put patients in danger: Lord Winston’s stark warning over NHS workers from Romania and Bulgaria”.

On behalf of the Association of the Bulgarian Healthcare Professionals in the United Kingdom I would like to express my disagreement with the article, published on September 10th in the Daily Mail .
Communication skills are pivotal in sensitive relationship “clinical specialists-patient” that traces the path to successful diagnostic and therapeutic approach to suffers’ needs. Coordinated efforts of multidisciplinary team are the formulae of the satisfactory patients’ outcome. 
Working in diverse environment is a challenge for every professional in public sector, local or foreign specialist. Many studies on migration of international nurses support the fact that “migration is a multifaceted and intricate social phenomenon”.
Integration is a dynamic trans-national process and cooperation is essential. The literature clearly identifies that it is a process that spans over years. The success of full integration depends partly on individuals’ capacity to face challenges in their social and work environment, and on the approaches taken by employers to manage the process over time.
Cultural diversity is the challenge for both - employers and healthcare professionals to provide culturally competent care to diverse population, accept nurses from culturally diverse backgrounds and educate nurses in the skills required for culturally competent practice.
The domains of competences represent a broad enabling framework to facilitate the assessment and ensure that the skills for critical analysis, problem solving, decision-making, reflective skills and abilities essential to the art and science of nursing meet the standard required to register as a nurse in order to move towards an international standard in nursing regulation (ICN – International Council of Nurses – 2002).  Bulgarian Association of Healthcare Professionals, based in Sofia well recognises these international nursing standards as a member of ICN.
Bulgarian universities provide high quality education for health sector officials, and in the specific case of nurses - fully harmonized curriculum with the Directives 77/452/EEC 77/453/EEC. It should be noted that the EU legislation lays down only the opportunity to freely seek employment in other Member States.
Before 2007 NMC (Nursing Midwifery Council) requirement for registration in UK as a nurse included successful pass of IELTS academic level 7 which does not support colloquial  English which is the major consideration in the article. Conversational language cannot be acquired abroad, it comes with the social experience in the host country together with studying unique culture.
The employment legislation in UK provides tool for employer for decision-making as every candidate is individually assessed during an interview, which includes his/her communication skills – spoken and written English, professional integrity and personal qualities. Regular appraisals assist with monitoring professional performance and “patient experience” is a part of holistic approach to individual assessment.
Accepting and accommodating diversity in the workplace is about providing equality of opportunities. Equality is about preventing and eliminating workplace prejudice and accommodating difference. In the multicultural society, as UK is, the diverse workforce with enriched cultural backgrounds will help in providing culturally competent care.
The words of Lord Winston are taken out of the context of his speech during the debate in the House of Lords. None of the specific cases, presented in the article, refer to a Bulgarian nurse and it is inconceivable that marginalization and prejudice towards Bulgarian health professionals should be tolerated.
The Association of the Bulgarian Healthcare Professionals in the United Kingdom is ready to work together with all relevant institutions and stakeholders in any particular case or problem with Bulgarian practitioner. But we strongly oppose labeling Bulgarian nurses as unqualified to work in this country or as a threat to patients’ health. 

The Association of the Bulgarian Healthcare Professionals in the United Kingdom is willing and able to provide additional information and participate in relevant meetings and discussions on the issue. We are confident that concerns should be addressed and constructive dialogue will guarantee solution in a professional, collaborative manner rather than negative publications.

Building positive practice environments will assist the integration and contribute to creating dynamic team by valuing and using the ability of all. It will deliver benefits to patients, individual practitioner, healthcare teams and health services, and ultimately, the delivery of high standard health care and satisfactory outcomes.

Indeed, we appreciate your view and considerations for patient safety and we strongly believe that this article does not reflect any particular attitude and prejudice towards our country.

Yours faithfully

Vanya Tihomirova
The Chairwoman

Association of Bulgarian Healthcare Professionals in UK is a non-profit Limited Company, Reg.N 0533235. It is a professional organization established in 2003 with the aim to support and facilitate professional integration of Bulgarian healthcare professionals in the UK. Address: 77 Viking, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 8UN, phone: 01344 444 263, mobile: 07859072909, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it