Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

MPs issue call on European doctors

Calls have been renewed over medics with overseas qualifications practising in the UK
Calls have been renewed over medics with overseas qualifications practising in the UK

A group of MPs has renewed calls for the Government and medical regulators to speed up efforts to resolve potential problems posed by doctors and nurses who qualify elsewhere in Europe and earn the right to work in the UK without having their language or medical skills tested.

The concerns were raised in two separate "annual accountability hearing" reports, relating to the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which were published by the Commons Health Committee.

They concluded that UK and European law which underpins the workings of both regulators needed a complete overhaul.

Committee chairman Stephen Dorrell said: "The Government will need to place a priority on doing this if it wants to see the performance of these regulators improve."

The report on the GMC said doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland seeking to practise in the UK cannot routinely be language and competence tested by the GMC.

It noted the GMC along with the Government was "working towards resolution of this with partner organisations across Europe", but added: "The committee takes the view that current legal framework is at odds with good clinical practice, which is clearly unacceptable."

It acknowledged the GMC had plans, "within the boundaries of UK law and the EU directive, to manage the constraints on language and competence testing" by using the responsible officer role to establish that EEA doctors were fit to practise in the UK.

The committee said although this short-term measure was welcome, it believed that "public confidence in the medical profession" required the issue to be "addressed authoritatively".

Responding to the committee's report, GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the regulator was consulting on a new version of its core guidance, Good Medical Practice, and producing new advice for doctors about raising concerns.

He added: "We are also encouraged by the committee's support for our plans to modernise our fitness to practise work and the management of hearings, including crucially allowing us the right of appeal against decisions we feel do not protect the public."

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