A Conservative MEP’s initiative to make professional qualifications more-easily transportable across Europe bore fruit today with a key vote in the European Parliament.
A substantial majority of MEPs in Strasbourg backed a raft of proposals which stem directly from a detailed report on qualifications drawn up nearly two years ago by East Midlands MEP Emma McClarkin.
The approved report includes measures to speed up and simplify the system for qualifications to be portable across the European Union, allowing better freedom of movement and employment.
A key clause provides for essential safety checks in the recruitment of doctors and nurses by tightening up rules on language checks.
The safeguards aim to prevent further cases such as that of German doctor Daniel Ubani, who accidentally killed a patient , David Gray, in the UK in 2008 by giving him an overdose of diamorphine. The accident happened during Dr Ubani’s first shift in the UK.
Miss McClarkin said: “For me it was essential to prevent any repeat of the Urbani case. It is vitally important that prospective health professionals should demonstrate the necessary skills and ability to communicate with patients before they can work in the UK.
“Even after recognition of a qualification has taken place, competent authorities will now be given the powers to carry out proportionate language controls.
“I am also very pleased that my amendments to align the minimum training requirements for doctors to the UK´s system were included in the final text. We have fantastic doctors in the UK, who undergo extensive training and rigorous exams at some of the world´s best teaching hospitals and universities.”
The proposals would also create an alert mechanism, as Miss McClarkin initially proposed in her pre-legislative report in 2011, so that authorities in EU member states will be obliged to inform one another about any professional struck off or suspended, or who has used fake qualifications to get a job..
She added: “The Commission has also taken up my proposals to look into instances where member states are blocking access to professions. In many cases this is unnecessary regulation which is preventing the access of highly-qualified professionals to jobs.
“This is not only about balancing fairness and safety. It is also about harnessing the mobility we need in the drive for growth and jobs.”