Europe-wide alert system to warn of poor GPs

GMC links up with other regulators to call for powers to test doctors' language and clinical skills.

GMC: ‘significant step forward’ (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)

The GMC should be automatically alerted about regulatory action against doctors in other European countries, medical regulators have warned.

In a joint statement to the European Commission, 25 European regulators, including the GMC, outlined ways to improve the current system for regulating the movement of doctors in Europe.

It also called for GMC powers to test the language skills of European doctors wanting to work in the UK.

The statement said an 'alert mechanism' informing regulators about action taken against European doctors would improve patient safety in Europe.

The campaign follows concerns that European regulators are not always sharing registration and disciplinary information about a doctor with their counterparts in other countries.

The 2005 EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications allows the free movement of clinicians around Europe, by requiring the GMC and other regulators to accept overseas medical qualifications. It also bars them from conducting any formal language testing.

It would be in the interest of patient safety to allow regulators to assess the language and clinical skills of migrant doctors, the statement added.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson welcomed the joint submission as a 'significant step forward'.

'It shows that regulators throughout Europe share the goal of securing improved patient safety and are committed to helping refine the current rules so that free movement of doctors can go hand in hand with proportionate, effective and targeted regulation,' he said.

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