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New EU policy could "safeguard" patients

New EU policy could "safeguard" patients


Measures to safeguard all European patients has been hailed as a "positive step forward" by the NHS European Office.

Elisabetta Zanon, director of the NHS European Office said: "We are pleased with the progress that has been made and will continue to raise awareness of the remaining areas of concern."

Zanon added: "The NHS needs to ensure the right checks and balances are in place to protect patients from dangerous care from health professionals."

European parliament members (MEPs) approved measures to update the rules on doctors and nurses who move from one European country to another for work.

Regulatory bodies like the General Medical Council (GMC) will ensure that clinicians can speak the language of the country they are going to, according to proposed changes.

The MEPs also suggested a warning system, so that member states would know within 48 hours when a clinician is struck off their own country's register.

It is hoped this would prevent doctors from "shopping around" and travelling to other European countries to treat patients.

"We need health professionals to be able to move around Europe freely and use their expertise, but patient safety must be our first priority," said Elisabetta Zanon,

Doctors' training will also remain five years long, instead of increasing by a year, which the NHS European Office said would be "unnecessary".

Together with UK health organisations like the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the NHS European Office lobbied to secure changes to the European Commission's proposals.

Chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, Dr Peter Carter said he is encouraged by the suggestion of introducing language checks on EU health professionals.

"This will ensure that health care staff can communicate with their colleagues and patients," he said.

The measures will be subject to a European Parliament vote later this year, before it can become law.

The NHS European Office, part of the NHS Confederation, is the link between European policy makers and NHS trusts.


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