Europe may allow GMC to language test foreign doctors

The GMC could get full powers to systematically test the language skills of European doctors, after the European Commission acknowledged that the current system is a concern.

Mr Dickson: the GMC is in favour of authorities across Europe finding better ways of exchanging information when a doctor moves from one country to another

Currently the European Commission's directive prevents the GMC from testing the language skills of European doctors as it says it is a barrier to the free movement of doctors across the European Union (EU).

But it is now looking to review the directive, outlining that the issue of language testing is gaining more importance as migration of doctors across the EU increases.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said he welcomed the European Commission's recognition that language testing is a concern.

He said the European Commission suggests competent authorities, such as the GMC, might be able to do more to test the language skills of doctors.

He said: 'We would want to ensure that whatever a competent authority was able to do does not preclude employers also applying a test around fitness to practise.'

Meanwhile, Mr Dickson also said the GMC is 'seriously concerned' about the European Commission's proposals to give European doctors a professional card as a means of verifying their professional qualifications. He said it would provide 'false assurance' about a doctor's fitness to practise.

'The idea that you hand doctors a professional card that as soon as you hand it out is immediately out of contrary to all that we have been trying to do,' he said.

Mr Dickson instead said the GMC is in favour of competent authorities across Europe finding better ways of exchanging information when a doctor moves from one country to another. He said this could be an automatic and electronic system that would proactively share fitness to practise data.

Mr Dickson said: 'We are pleased the European Commission is looking again at the directive. There are various aspects that we do not feel are conducive to patient safety.

'This is partly due to the age of the directive, but there are also some technical aspects we want to change.'


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