New rules on the movement of health professionals across Europe are a major improvement in patient safety, says the GMC.
EU ministers have agreed that doctors, nurses and other health professionals moving to the UK from Europe will have to meet new patient safety requirements. The changes mean the GMC will be able to check a doctor’s language skills before he or she is allowed to practise in the UK.
A new alert system will also be introduced, requiring health regulators across Europe to warn each other within three days when a doctor or other health professional has been removed from its register, or has had his or her practice restricted.
“Alongside changes to current UK law in 2014, they will give us the ability to check the language skills of doctors coming to work here from Europe,” said Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC.
“The new alert system is also a big step forward. If we are to protect patients, free movement of professionals must be accompanied by free movement of information.”
There are currently 26,949 doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) on the UK medical register out of a total of 259,670 doctors.