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EU law update improves patient safety

Updated rules on how nurses and doctors can move around Europe to work have been welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). 

The European parliament will create a virtual professional qualifications card, as well as create an alert system to make it harder for those barred from working in their profession at home to move to another EU country and work. 

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who have been convicted of a crime which would make them unsuitable to practice will be prevented, with all EU member states informed of the convictions within three days. 

The European Parliament's draft law also includes language checks. European member states will be required to actively support continuing professional development for clinicians. 

Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive said: “The RCN has long been calling for concerns to be addressed and for education programmes to better reflect modern day nursing, alongside partners in the European Federation of Nurses Associations, the European Federation of Public Service Unions and others within the UK.

“The revised directive supports the overriding priority - to help to promote high professional standards and maintain patient safety and quality of care. It also simplifies arrangements for professional recognition in another EU member state and means that health regulators will need to warn each other if health professionals are banned or restricted from practice in their country.”

Elisabetta Zanon, director of the NHS Confederation's European Office, said: "We need health professionals to be able to move around Europe freely and use their expertise in other countries, but patient safety must be our first priority. NHS organisations must be confident that European staff who come to work in the UK have been properly checked and that their qualifications, experience and other credentials are up to date and meet minimum standards.”