Mobility of Healthcare Professionals

Following the Commission’s publication of a proposal to revise the Professional Qualifications Directive on 19 December 2011, the Sub-Committee met with a number of UK professional stakeholders to discuss its provisions. Following this meeting Lord Roper, Chairman of the EU Committee, sent a letter to the Government raising a number of points.

The EU Social Policies and Consumer Protection Sub-Committee conducted an Inquiry into the mobility of healthcare professionals within the context of the European Commission’s review of the Professional Qualifications Directive.

The Commission estimates that, in the last thirteen years, only about 200,000 citizens took advantage of the legislation in order to move within the Union. Boosting intra-EU mobility is an important part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, and particularly of the New Skills and Jobs Agenda. As part of this, the Commission plans to revise the current framework. It issued a consultation paper on 7 January 2011  and intends to follow that with a Green Paper in July 2011 and legislative proposals later in the year.

According to the consultation paper, the broad issues to be addressed are: simplification; integration of professionals into the single market through new measures such as a European Professional Card; and the need to inject more confidence into the system. The latter issue relates particularly to the movement of health professionals within the Union. Confidence in the system has been harmed by cases such as the UK’s Ubani case.

Under the current framework, training requirements are harmonised for seven professions (doctors, general care nurses, dentists, midwives, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists and architects), and Member States are obliged to recognise automatically qualifications fulfilling these requirements. According to the Commission, a significant proportion of migrant professionals belong to these professions.

As a Sub-Committee with responsibility for health and consumer policy as well as employment and mobility, we chose to focus our inquiry on the mobility of healthcare professionals. The Sub-Committee gathered evidence to inform its response to the Commission Communication and published a report making recommendations to the Government and to the European institutions. The Government responded to the report on 17 December 2011. A debate will be held on the floor of the House in due course.