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EU votes for stronger regulation of nurses

The European Parliament has voted to strengthen the regulation of nurses working across the EU, with plans to introduce language checks and more rigorous competency requirements.

The changes also include an EU-wide alert system to prevent clinicians who are barred from working in one member state moving to another. Countries will be informed of a conviction or decision to discipline a health professional within 48 hours.

Member states will also be able to test nurses and doctors on their knowledge of the official language in the country where they plan to apply for a job. Health professionals will also be obliged to improve their training and education where necessary.

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the measures would improve patient safety across the EU.

“We are encouraged by the recommendation to allow regulators to introduce language checks on EU health professionals. This will ensure that healthcare staff can communicate with their colleagues and patients,” he said. “Another positive is the alert system, which will prevent health professionals prohibited from practising in one member state from working in another.”

But he said the college was disappointed there was not more support for a minimum 12 years of general education before people could begin studying to be a nurse, which would have brought other parts of the EU in line with the UK.

He said: “We fully support the right for nurses to use their skills around the world, but patient safety must be the top priority. We hope the vote will be a good starting point to ensure all patients receive the same high quality care.”


Readers' comments (2)

  • George Barnes

    About time! Can anyone explain to me why the EU were against this idea for so long?

    I had to mentor some Swedish qualified psych nurses quite a few years ago. Although their English was impeccable they couldn't understand the nuances of the language.

    I remember one of the patients who was rather upset asking one of these nurses if (excuse the literal translation) she was "taking the p*ss out of him?" Without batting an eyelid she replied "no need sir, we tested your urine yesterday!"

    Fortunately he saw the funny side of it and the tense situation was defused.

    Allegorical, yes, but I still find it funny!

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  • I wish there was more standardised EU regulation for all health care. In some EU countries one sees some excellent standards of care which could bring great benefits to the NHS.

    one German doctor working in the UK ordered portable X-rays for all of her patients. When this was investigated it was found that she meant that her patients were portable and could be transported to the X-ray department!

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