Tougher checks needed on EU out-of-hours GPs

MPs have called for tough checks to start at once on European GPs wanting to work for out-of-hours providers

Mr Dickson: supports select committee's call for tough checks

A report by the House of Commons health select committee says SHAs and the Care Quality Commission must make sure all PCTs are vetting doctors' English and fitness to practise before they are allowed onto a performers' list.

The government must also work 'as a matter of extreme urgency' to give the GMC powers to vet the language and clinical skills of doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA), the committee says.

The committee examined out-of-hours standards after a coroner's verdict in February of unlawful killing by German locum Dr Daniel Ubani.

Although health minister Mike O'Brien told it that Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT, where Dr Ubani was on the performers list, broke the law in not assessing his language skills, no action was taken, the MPs noted. The PCT has since changed its vetting system.

The GMC is prevented from language-testing EEA doctors by the Medical Act 1983. EU directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications stops the council from testing EEA doctors' clinical competence.

In evidence to the select committee, Mr O'Brien said 'we have to tighten up a lot' on employers who must ensure language and clinical competence.

A DoH spokesman it was already acting to 'tighten up existing controls'.

The government backed all recommendations in a report on out-of-hours by DoH national clinical director of primary care for England Dr David Colin-Thome and RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field in February.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: 'We must be able to test the language and clinical competence of doctors who qualified within the EEA.'

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