Patients face “unacceptable risks” to their safety as a result of laws that allow medics to practise anywhere across the EU, peers have claimed.
In a recent report they claim the wrong balance is being struck between allowing healthcare professionals to operate freely with the Union’s borders and protecting the safety of patients.
They call for organisations like the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Medical Council to be allowed to test the language skills of all non-UK applicants and for warnings about disgraced practitioners to be shared across EU states.
Baroness Young of Hornsey, who chairs the House of Lords Social Policies and Consumer Protection EU Sub-Committee, said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that current EU rules put patients in the UK and elsewhere at risk.
“From regulating bodies being forced to accredit candidates who may not meet UK standards to the fact that there is no way for prospective employers to check an applicant’s disciplinary history thoroughly, the EU is failing our patients.
“We recognise that mobility within the EU can bring significant benefits, but we have to make sure that this is not at the expense of patients’ health, care and confidence.
“Employing doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and dentists from outside the UK can help to provide patients with the best possible treatment but may also expose them to unacceptable risks.”
Health secretary Andrew Lansley insisted the government was taking action to toughen up the rules.