Lords Committee says EU rules put patients at "unacceptable risk"

19 October 2011

The rules which allow healthcare professionals to practise throughout the EU pose an unacceptable risk to the safety of patients says the House of Lords Social Policies and Consumer Protection EU Sub-Committee in its report on the Mobility of Healthcare Professionals, published today.

The committee's key finding is that the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, which governs the mobility of healthcare professionals within the EU and is currently under review, strikes the wrong balance between allowing  healthcare professionals to work in other EU countries and ensuring the safety of patients. 


The committee recommends that:

  • regulatory bodies (including the General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council,  General Dental Council and General Pharmaceutical Council) should be allowed to test the language skills of ALL non-UK applicants
  • an alert mechanism should be implemented so that authorities can share fitness to practice information and warn each other about practitioners who have been subject to disciplinary proceedings
  • the list of qualifications and skills recognised by the EU Directive must be updated

Calling for changes to the Directive, Committee Chair, Baroness Young of Hornsey, said:

"It is absolutely unacceptable that current EU rules put patients in the UK and elsewhere at risk. From regulating bodies being forced to accredit candidates who may not meet UK standards to the fact that there is no way for prospective employers to check an applicant's disciplinary history thoroughly, the EU is failing our patients.

We recognise that mobility within the EU can bring significant benefits, but we have to make sure that this is not at the expense of patients’ health, care and confidence. Employing doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and dentists from outside the UK can help to provide patients with the best possible treatment but may also expose them to unacceptable risks. 

The changes to the Directive that we would like to see would, we hope, help to rebuild confidence in a flawed system by putting in a place a rules which still promote mobility but recognise the overriding importance of patient safety."

Further Information

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