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Tag ‘doctors’

The EU is not blocking checks on doctors’ or dentists’ qualifications

Friday, April 8th, 2016

An article in the Daily Mail on 2 April is inaccurate in suggesting that the EU is or ever will be “blocking vital checks on doctors’ qualifications” through the European Professional Card (EPC) system or in any other way.

A further article on 9 April saying the UK authorities “cannot check up on dentists” is also misleading.

Key points

Doctors are not currently covered by the EPC and no decision has been taken on whether or when the system might be extended to them – though doctors and dentists are covered by a rapid alert system whereby Member States share information on individuals subject to disciplinary action.

Any UK employer – in this case often the NHS – can check the aptitude, performance or language ability of any doctor, dentist, nurse or other medical professional who applies for a position or who is already practising, whether British, EU or non-EU.

Read the full entry

EU law does NOT mean UK hospitals have to employ people who do not speak English

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Contrary to Paul Naish’s article in the Mail on 31 March, there is nothing in EU law that prevents the UK from checking the language skills of doctors and nurses from elsewhere in the EU. There is no “new Brussels Directive against language checks”. Instead, proposed revisions to EU rules will make even clearer that all EU-qualified health professionals can be subject to checks before they take up a post. Far from EU law “taking precedence” over the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans to reinforce such checks, the European Commission has welcomed those plans.

Mark English, Head of Media
European Commission Representation in the UK

This letter was published, slightly edited, in the Daily Mail on 5 April (p.83). The newspaper did not contact the European Commission before publication. Commissioner Michel Barnier had already exploded this Euromyth in January.

Language requirements for doctors

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

There is nothing in EU legislation to stop an EU country requiring people that work there to have adequate knowledge of the local language. There has been considerable reporting in the press that EU rules prevent doctors coming here from other EU countries being subject to language testing. This is not the case. The basic legislation setting out these rights says very clearly “Member States shall see to it that, where appropriate, the persons concerned acquire, in their interest and in that of their patients, the linguistic knowledge necessary to the exercise of their profession in the host country.” And in a judgement in 2000, the European Court of Justice agreed, in the case of a dentist, that a country could make the appointment of a healthcare professional

conditional upon his having the linguistic knowledge necessary for the exercise of his profession in the Member State of establishment

 Update 8 April 2010

Chantal Hughes, Commission spokeswoman for the Internal market clarified this issue at today’s press briefing.

View via this link [might require registration] Chantal Hughes explains EU rules on language tests for doctors

QUÉ PASA, DOCTOR? UK to be forced to employ doctors who cannot speak English

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

Danger of EU docs who cannot speak English
Patients’ lives are at risk because many EU doctors cannot speak English properly, it was claimed yesterday. The doctors’ failure means they may interpret symptoms incorrectly. Under EU law they do not have to be tested in language skills. Now worried experts want a change in the law.
(Daily Mirror 5 July 2005)

Doctors’ poor English ‘risks lives’
Patients’ lives are being put at risk because thousands of doctors working in Britain have a poor command of English, experts warned yesterday. Medics from outside Europe are tested on their language skills before being accepted into the profession. But under an EU labour law ruling, doctors from Europe are exempt from the tests.  
(Daily Mail 5 July 2005)


EU law on language tests for doctors.
While there is legislation to protect European workers from discrimination on the basis of their nationality, it is up to local health authorities and the British government to set essential recruitment criteria, including language requirements, for NHS staff. As the General Medical Council states, “The authority that employs the doctor must be satisfied their written and spoken English is satisfactory.” If a doctor from another EU country meets these requirements, there is no reason why they should not be allowed to work in the UK.

EU law may leave night duty doctors stranded on the shore

Tuesday, February 16th, 1999

Ferries will no longer be able to take doctors to two Scottish islands to deal with emergencies in the middle of the night because of European Union working time laws.
Financial Times, 16 February 1999, p7)

Absolutely untrue. The Working Time Directive and the UK implementing legislation exclude several sectors of activity, among them sea transport. Therefore, they have no impact whatsoever on ferry doctors. Future work time arrangements for seafarers are being negotiated with ship owners and seamen, including ferry company representatives. Whatever reasons certain ferry operators might have had for altering their services, it is wrong to blame the EU Working Time Directive.

Hundreds of GPs to be forced to acquire additional qualifications

Wednesday, September 14th, 1994

Myth: Hundreds of GPs (especially part-time women GPs) are to lose their jobs as from next January when a Brussels Directive aimed at harmonising standards of training for doctors comes into force, obliging them to have had the vocational training qualifications introduced in 1980 in addition to their medical qualifications. Part-time GPs who went into general practice before 1980 will therefore not be able to work for the NHS because they have not undergone the necessary vocational training.
Source: Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph and The Times, following briefing from the British Medical Association (14th September 1994)

Response: This is not the case at all. Neither practicing GPs in the NHS nor part-time training for women need be affected by the Directive. This Directive*, agreed by Ministers in 1986, does indeed seek to ensure that all GPs working in national health schemes in the EC are vocationally trained as of 1.1.95; it also gave national governments an eight year period from 1986 to adapt their requirements to the vocational training obligations of GPs. Ultimately it would ensure that adequately trained British GPs are able to work in any other EC country, and vice-versa.

However there is nothing in the Directive which bans practicing GPs in the NHS from continuing to practice after this date (see Article 36). The Directive in fact requests national governments to make provisions to enable practicing NHS doctors to continue. In addition those GPs who are working in another EC country’s national health scheme as of next January can continue to work there.

Article 34 of the Directive specifically seeks to protect the principle of part-time training for GPs. If the government wants to cater for different categories of GPs in the NHS, it is therfore perfectly entitled to do so.

* – Directive 86/457/EEC now General Medical Practitioner Provisions in title IV of Directive 93/16/EEC

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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