Regulators must strengthen checks on movement of doctors

The European Commission should set up an 'alert mechanism' to ensure member countries are quickly informed about regulatory action taken against European doctors, medical regulators have called.

Mr Dickson: joint submission is a ‘significant step forward’

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

It said an alert mechanism would improve the exchange of information about European doctors, which would have an impact on patient safety in Europe.

The move 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.

But the joint statement said only doctors that are fit and safe to practise should be able to move freely with the EEA. It also urged the commission to allow regulators to assess the language and clinical skills of migrant doctors in the interest of patient safety.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said this joint submission is a ‘significant step forward’.

He said: ‘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.’

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