European Union rules should be tightened to ensure nurses and midwives from member states that want to work in the UK are up to date with continuing professional development, according to peers.
Current European labour market rules mean the Nursing and Midwifery Council and other regulators must recognise the qualifications of a nurse from an EU country outside the UK and register them, even if they have not practised for a number of years.
The House of Lords European Union committee is calling for safeguards to stop this from happening in future and want amendments made to proposals to update a directive on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
The directive is designed to facilitate the movement of health workers between different EU countries and is currently being updated to make the process even easier, while at the same time tightening up some well known gaps in the existing rules on language and registration status.
The updated directive will make it possible for the NMC to ask for proof of a good standard of English before allowing nurses qualified in other parts of the EU onto the UK register. It will also introduce an “alert mechanism” for EU members when a nurse is struck off a country’s register.
But in a letter to employment relations minister Norman Lamb, committee chair Lord Roper said member states should also be “obliged” to require healthcare professionals to undertake CPD.
The peers argue the changes to the directive must ensure “patient safety is not at risk of being compromised in the quest for greater mobility”.
The revised directive is expected to come into force at the end of the year or in early 2013, once it has been passed by the European Parliament.